Eastern student Mary Parise of Fairfield engages in service learning

Hands-on, out-of-the classroom learning experiences are routine for students at Eastern Connecticut State University. With opportunities to study abroad, take internships for credit and perform undergraduate research, students engage in real-world learning experiences throughout their four years at Eastern.

Service learning is an educational option on the rise at Eastern. Service learning courses match community needs with students engaged in certain forms of learning. Students benefit from hands-on learning, as well as real-world practice, which builds a bridge between the classroom and the community.

Mary Parise, class of 2017 of Fairfield is participating in service learning during the fall 2015 semester. Parise’s major is Pre-Early Childhood Education and Sociology.

More than 100 students are engaged in service learning during the fall 2015 semester. Students experience learning expands upon what they learn in a traditional classroom setting. The course objectives are expanded to include civic education, introduce new life to the classroom and enhance performance in traditional learning. Service learning courses also increase student interest and make teaching more enjoyable. Students gain the greatest understanding during “reflective” activities such as small group discussions, directed writings and class presentations. Service learning fully integrates “service” into the course curriculum.

In addition to supporting the community, students can also enhance their resume with service learning opportunities. Since the job market is constantly growing and becoming more and more competitive, a service learning class is a strong resume builder to distinguish graduates. “This strategy of learning promotes the development of an active and engaged citizen,” said Nicolas Simon, professor of sociology. “Our students are the citizens of today and tomorrow. Democracy is a very ‘expensive’ system that requires all of us to be engaged and active in the local, national and international community.”

A number of Eastern professors participate in service learning. David Stoloff, professor of education, teaches an FYI 100 course that is designed for first-year students. “Is Teaching For You?” guides students in deciding whether teaching is an appropriate career choice.

“Students in this course benefit from experiencing teaching in diverse classrooms. Students in the local schools benefit from the special attention of future teachers,” said Stoloff. “For the most part, my students are interested in teaching, so participating in schools provides them with the experiences to build their career.”

Nanette Tummers, professor of kinesiology and physical education, encourages her students to participate in service learning as well. “The students become engaged, it validates their education, they see their impact and it expands their awareness,” said Tummers. “Being able to apply the information to those who really need the information is much more meaningful than just hearing the words in classroom.”

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 161 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 25 other states and 18 other countries. A residential campus offering 38 majors and 55 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked in the top 30 public universities in the North Region, by U.S. News and World Report in its 2016 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council six years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.


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