published October 30, 2009

New Backgrounder Addresses Service-Learning and Engagement at Community Colleges

Over the past several years, Robert Franco of Kapiolani Community College has been strongly involved in the SENCER community and has led faculty at Kapiolani in implementing the SENCER approach in many courses, including a SENCER Model course, The Science of Sleepby Hervé Collin. An anthropologist and leader in the community college and service-learning fields, Franco was commissioned by SENCER to write a backgrounder on how service-learning and the SENCER approach integrate goals of research, teaching and service, especially for faculty at community colleges. Franco's backgrounder was introduced at sessions at the 2009 SENCER Summer Institute.

While the new backgrounder focuses on how academic service learning can improve student outcomes and interests, Franco provides a helpful brief history of the evolution of community colleges and their missions from their start as junior colleges in the early 1900s to today. The backgrounder also contains current statistics on faculty, students, and degree granting.

Franco details thirteen indicators of engagement at community colleges that impact the ability of faculty to engage with students and communities, taking into account the special challenges community college educators face and providing examples of best practices using programs from diverse colleges. The indicators of campus and faculty culture emerge from research commissioned by Campus Compact in 2002 and led by Franco and colleague Donna Duffy of Middlesex Community College. Service or community-based learning is explicitly grounded in teaching and learning at engaged community colleges and can help achieve institutional goals. Kapiolani Community College uses service-learning as a strategy to address students' low literacy rates, low math and science proficiency, and low high school graduation rates. Service-learning offers the College the opportunity to reach a larger number of students than undergraduate research, nearly 800 students per year. The college partners with the local community and has built courses around topics affecting the local population, such as health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities in minority populations, sleep and brain function, ecological deterioration, genetic modification of foods.

To read the backgrounder, please click here. Bob Franco welcomes your comments - please contact him at [link mailto: ''].