Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From Good To Great

Roger Bingham, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Ivy Tech Community College Columbus/Franklin

Roger_Bingham_frameI’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Or maybe it’s been phrased, “Leave well enough alone.”  Or for the animal lovers, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”  And in some settings, that philosophy is well-advised (especially with the dog!).  But should we in higher education settle for this type of approach to working with our students?  Why should we settle for “good” when “great” is possible?

Jim Collins, in Good to Great, says that good is the enemy of great.  Your institution is a member of Indiana Campus Compact (ICC) because of a desire to move your service-learning program from good to great.  Ivy Tech Community College Columbus/Franklin recently received some financial support from ICC, through the Enhancing Service Engagement Collaboration Grant which allowed us to make a significant stride towards “great” on the “good-to-great” continuum.

Because of this collaboration grant, we were able to develop a new program for the Columbus/Franklin region.  This program, which has recently been named Service-Learning 101, allowed us to bring together 21 faculty and four staff members for structured service-learning training.  This group of 25 met on five occasions during the spring 2010 semester.  The meetings began in late January and ran every three weeks for five sessions.

Session one featured Ange Cooksey from Indiana University East.  Ange shared the maturation of service-learning from its birth in 1862, with President Lincoln’s signature on the Morrill Act, through what we know today with state, national, and international support organizations, scholarly research, and invaluable conferences.

The second session, on the topic of planning, highlighted Gail Robinson from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).  Gail’s presentation focused on successful integration of service-learning with course objectives.

The third session allowed our group to learn about the action phase of service-learning from Karla Gottlieb.  Karla addressed the need to have all the (known) kinks worked out of a project before having students appear at a service site.  This includes attire, security, expectations, and more.

Karla presented again for the fourth session on reflection.  During this meeting, Karla defined effective reflection and presented reflection techniques.

Finally, the fifth session contained a program wrap-up in the form of a Jeopardy style game.  The categories used corresponded to the first four sessions and was an effective way to review the material that had been covered.  We also had each participant complete a survey, adding an assessment component.  We requested feedback on what went well and what needed to be improved.

While no formal reading assignments were given, each faculty participant received three books for his or her professional library.  These were Creating a Climate for Service Learning Success (Jeandron and Robinson), A Practical Guide for Integrating Civic Responsibility into the Curriculum (Gottlieb and Robinson, eds.), and Quick Hits for Service-Learning: Successful Strategies by Award-Winning Teachers (Cooksey and Olivares, eds.).

The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive.  They enjoyed the content, natural flow of the topics, and the expert presenters.  They indicated the distance presentations were helpful, but felt the face-to-face presentations were more effective.  Some participants suggested a Service-Learning 201 course.  That course will be offered during the spring 2012 semester and will feature a five course menu to include an agency fair (with speed dating!), inter-disciplinary service-learning dialogue, for the use service-learning in online courses, a service opportunity for faculty related to poverty, and a reflection/summary session.

Ivy Tech Columbus/Franklin was able to provide our faculty and staff with this kind of intensive, ready-to-implement training because of the financial aid and guidance we received from Indiana Campus Compact. The grant program goals of institutionalizing service engagement and service-learning as a campus-wide effort were at the core of each step in our good to great process.

Roger Bingham

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus/Franklin

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Indiana Campus Compact is grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for significant funding in support of programs, training,and resources for our member campuses that allow them to deepen their commitment to community engagement and service-learning.