• Planting the Seeds of Student Engagement Through a Service Learning Project at a Local High School

      Reynolds, Erin; Mustata Wilson, Gabriela
      Problem Statement: Student engagement in the classroom can be fostered by service learning activities in the community. Context: Faculty at a local academic institution were invited to grow an interprofessional partnership with the local Area Health Education Center and an alternative high school to create a wellness fair to connect at-risk students with resources. The high school serves students from a variety of backgrounds, including a high proportion of minority (43.7%), economically disadvantaged (72.6%), and four-year graduation rates of ~20%. Junior and senior students from four health services courses (HP378, HP306, HP475, and MHA642) participated in service learning projects and completed a post-project survey to evaluate their engagement. Approach: Faculty responsible for several courses developed innovative service learning projects to cultivate an environment of engagement for their students. Examples of service learning projects will be shared for two of the courses that participated in the high school wellness fair. One group of students were responsible for the design and organization of the fair, while another group acted as vendors and introduced the high school students to virtual reality stress relief methods. Results: Student outcome data will be shared that supports the benefit associated with using service learning to increase student engagement in and out of the classroom. Reflection: Hands on learning has the ability to capture the student's interest in a way that grows their engagement beyond the planting of knowledge in lecture based material.