Dr. Erin Reynolds, assistant professor of Health Services/Administration, incorporates service learning into her courses, including Epidemiology (MHA 628 and PH 485) and Community Health Education Methods (HP 378). She explains service learning gives her students more work experience with hands on interaction.
MHA 628 students work with the health department to develop a research proposal based on our community’s needs. The students then present their ideas to the health department. Ideas may include assessing distracted driving habits, identifying attitudes toward STIs in the community, or working with the Marshallese community to address healthcare needs. Students may then apply for grants to implement their projects for the community as part of their capstone project.
PH 485 students assist with USI’s Wellness Fair, running their own booth, where they design and implement surveys to be given to Wellness Fair participants. HP 378 students design a health fair at local high schools, which includes all set-up and design, contacting vendors to attend, and running the event, all while incorporating their research components.
Service learning greatly benefits these students, as Dr. Reynolds believes service learning allows students to apply what they are learning into real world experiences. Students better understand how to specifically word research questions, how to select an appropriate sample for research studies, and how to prevent overall bias in study design. Students also make connections with people in their fields and gain wonderful networking experience. Students make a difference for people in the community.
Service learning also benefits Dr. Reynolds, as she says service learning pushes her comfort zone in the classroom and keeps her up to date on current events as well as encourages her to continually think about her students’ needs beyond the classroom. Dr. Reynolds applies her own research into these courses, presenting her findings at major conferences and plans on publishing in the future.