Jones describes these projects as superior to any “hypothetical examples” he could provide in class. His four groups of students each make-up a 10-12 person team with rotating positions of convener, scribe, and process link person. These teams each partner with a local agency to assist them in a service or event. Their experiences are followed up by a reflect component through presentations and a written summary.
The student team working with SWIRCA was charged with assisting this large local agency during their Veteran’s Day Celebration activities. SWIRCA’s mission “to enhance opportunities for independent living” stems from their designation as an area focal point by the Indiana Division of Aging. Their Veteran’s Day Celebration consists of a vendor fair focusing on services and opportunities for veterans and a recognition program and luncheon. The student team’s goals are to assist the agency however they can to allow for SWIRCA to do their service more effectively. This includes helping attendees with mobility, serving meals, and possibly helping vendors. Professor Jones emphasizes that student experiences must be dictated by the needs of the agency and their clients.
The team of students working with ECHO Community Healthcare will be assisting the agency on the first day of open enrollment for state and federal health insurance plans. The student’s activities are similar to those at SWIRCA’s Veteran’s Day Celebration as students will be interacting with agency clients on this day, serving food, answering questions, and as general help to the agency so that they make do their important work.
Jones has also worked closely with Potter’s Wheel to incorporate service learning into one section of his Management of Organizational Behavior course. This team of students is collaborating to create fresh marketing material for the local social service agency. The goals of the team are to familiarize themselves with the agency and provide them with a professional presentation and press package for future marketing needs. This involved assisting the agency in distilling their marketing scheme, which has also helped them to focus their programming and activity focus agency-wide.
The final student team is working with United Caring Services in Evansville to help them revamp their “day shelter” where homeless individuals are invited to eat meals and commune during the day. To renovate this space, the student team will be painting the walls and developing ideas on how to improve the atmosphere to this historic aging space, thus connecting to organizational behavior curriculum.
Each team congregated multiple times over the course of the semester as well as spent considerable time in each agency. One team utilized technological advances to have an online meeting with their agency. Professor Jones was able to drop in at meetings here and there but largely allows the teams to do their own work.
Jones notes that he has also received benefits through creating these service learning projects for his students. He has created new relationships with agencies in town in which he was unfamiliar before. Jones also describes a personal benefit of feeling that he is contributing to good works in the community as he gives his students the opportunity to develop their professional skills and gain new perspectives.