Community-Based Learning (CBL) Program
“Service Learning programs are distinguished from other approaches to experiential education by their intention to equally benefit the provider and the recipient of the service as well as to ensure equal focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring. . . It is this balance that distinguishes service-learning from all other experiential education programs.”
Excerpted from Andrew Furco’s 2006 article “Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education.”
Community-Based Learning in Action at Polk State
While donations traditionally come to the Foundation in the form of funding, organizations and governmental entities can also assist students exponentially by playing an important role in enhancing the educational experience. One important way is through participation in the College’s Community Based Learning Faculty Fellows Program. This program specifically supports faculty interested in integrating community-based learning into their courses, but the benefits extend far beyond the classroom. Learning and development outcomes for students are improved by participation in community-based learning courses, and community partners play a key role in shaping these experiences. In the program’s inaugural year, several organizations partnered with Polk State’s Faculty to enrich the curriculum in the following ways:
Partnered with Linda Schaak, Professor of Nursing
Students are working with vulnerable populations (children, women, elderly, homeless) to conduct health checks and make referrals under proper supervision at The Mission of Winter Haven.
The Public Education Partnership of Winter Haven, Meals on Wheels, Agape Food Bank, First Presbyterian Church of Winter Haven Soup Kitchen, India Pentecostal Church of Florida (Affiliated with Lighthouse Ministries), and the Circle of Love Soup Kitchen in Auburndale.
Partnered with Logan Randolph, Professor of Science
Students are learning about food scarcity, hunger issues and exploring innovative ways to feed low-income families.
Partnered with Richard Decker, Professor of Mathematics
Students learn from a representative of the Supervisor of Elections office about the importance of registering to vote and properly exercising their right to vote. Students then collected data relevant to the 2016 United States presidential election and ran statistical tests on this data. Underrepresented voting groups were identified and the information was shared with organizations so that these groups could be encouraged to vote.
Partnered with Carol Martinson, Professor of English
Students are working with Volunteers In Service to the Elderly (VISTE). Instead of writing essays about their favorite vacation, students meet and interview seniors and then hone their writing skills by documenting the seniors’ life experiences.
Partnered with Natalie Whitcomb, Professor of Science
Environmental Science students collect tree data (location, size/ type of trees) from Winter Haven parks. The natural resource division then uses the data collected to make informed decisions about increasing tree diversity in parks and the monetary value of the trees in preventing stormwater run-off. Oceanography students will sample local lakes for micro-plastic pollution. Information will be provided to the City and it will become a part of their water quality data. This information will be sent to the Florida Agricultural Service (IFAS).
Partnered with Annette Bullard, Professor of Occupational Therapy
Get Fit @ the Rec is a pilot project designed to assess the impact of Health and Fitness education/activities on K – 8th-grade students in the center’s after-school program. The Occupational Therapy and Nursing departments are working together on this initiative. Professor Bullard’s Occupational Therapy students are providing Health and Wellness education workshops to the students, while Professor Lynda Schaak’s Nursing students will monitor specific bio-metrics and the health of the students while providing health career education. The staff at the Center will conduct testing to determine the impact these interventions have on the students’ overall academic and physical welfare. The City of Winter Haven has applied for a program grant and this pilot will provide valuable data for the decision makers.
Partnered with Michelle Manzi, Professor of Music
In Professor Manzi’s MUN1320 Women’s Choir Class, students are partnering with the Arts in Medicine Program at Watson Clinic to perform for cancer patients while they are waiting and receiving treatment. The power of music to heal and lift spirits is undeniable. This is usually obvious by the listener’s response to beautiful melodies and positive lyrics. This is one of our goals as independent musicians. The other goal as performers is to reciprocate communication with our listeners creating a connection through the power of music. The students will be sharing joy and hope through song as well as gaining new insight into their ability to create this experience for others.
Partnered with Von McGriff, Professor of First-Year Experience
The students in Professor McGriff’s First-Year Experience (FYE) Seminar are working with kidsPACK in Lakeland to collect food items to furnish food packs for students in elementary, middle, and high schools in Polk County who are in need. The FYE students also created a survey addressing food shortage on Polk State’s Lakeland campus.
Partnered with Carol Martinson, Professor of English
For a second year, Professor Martinson’s ENCl 101 Composition 1 students are partnering with Volunteers In Service to the Elderly (VISTE) and Lakeview Presbyterian Apartments, a residential high-rise in Lakeland for seniors. The students visit with the senior residents several times during the semester. The students provide food and companionship to the seniors while honing their writing skills documenting the seniors’ life experiences. This Community-Based Learning class has been extremely well received by both students and the seniors.