Sociology Through Service Learning

ZAP NO: 35058 / 6:00 8:20 W INSTRUCTOR:

Rita Duncan

  • Office: Room 2003 Phone: 595 7629
  • Office Hours: MWF 7 8:00 a.m. || WF 12 1:00 p.m. || M 12 2:00 p.m.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is a directed study at self-selected sites in the Tulsa community. within the context of field experience, students are offered a reciprocal opportunity to acquire knowledge and develop skills while providing service and assistance to the community.


1) Education for Democracy. Benjamin R. Barber and Richard M. Battistoni. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1993.

2) The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives. Frances Moore Lappe and Paul Martin DuBois, Jossey Bass, 1994.

3) A series of articles in the form of handouts.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The National and Community Service Act of 1990 defines Service Learning as student participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences: a) that meet actual community needs and that are coordinated in collaboration with the school and community b) that are integrated into the students' academic curriculum or provide structured time for a student to think, talk or write about what the student did and saw during the actual service activity; c) that provide students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real life situations in their own communities; d) that enhance what is taught in school by extending student learning beyond the classroom and into the community and help to foster the development of a sense of caring for others. More succinctly, Service Learning is an experiential learning program which integrates academic course work into community service. While this course seeks to accomplish that general goal, it is also designed to foster reflective thinking, critical thinking and creative thinking. Upon completion of this course the student should be able to: 1) Apply sociological concepts and principles to the experience gained in the community. 2) Strengthen personal understanding of how the sociological imagination informs social experience. 3) Propose modified or new strategies which are more effective for accomplishing the chosen site goals. 4) Acquire additional knowledge about the Tulsa community. 5) Develop a greater understanding and appreciation for human agency as it relates to participants at the selected site. 6) Refine and expand existing skills. 7) Recognize the significance of her/his own contribution to the community, thereby increasing the sense of personal social responsibility.

COURSE LEARNING ACTIVITIES: Since learning is most effective when students are actively involved in the process, it is expected that each student will do the following: 1) Attend all orientation/preparation classes. 2) Participate in other scheduled course activities. 3) Read course text and handouts and seek clarification when necessary. 4) Comply with the stipulations on the Student Agreement form. 5) Complete all course assignments. 6) Complete evaluation instrument at end of course. 7) Inform instructor immediately if you feel you have a disability which requires special accommodations. The instructor will make periodic visits to your site but an email address and access to a computer is necessary for weekly contact and journaling. For students without access to a computer, TCC microcomputer labs can be utilized. Students without an e mail address should establish one at There is no cost for this service and staff members in the microcomputer labs will assist in establishing the e mail address.

GRADING CRITERIA: Assignments have been designed to enhance your Service Learning experience. All assignments are considered late if not submitted on or before the due date. Grade points will be reduced by 50% for each late assignment. Further, late assignments must be submitted the day after they are due or no credit will be earned. A point system will be used to determine final grades. The maximum number of points that can be earned is 700. Points will be distributed as follows: 100 four preparation assignments worth 25 points each 200 the equivalent of 2;.~ hours per week spent at site 200 journal 100 final product 100 interview GRADING SCALE based upon points earned: 700-650 = A 649-599 = B 598-548 = C 547-497 = D 496-0 = F GUIDELINES FOR FINAL PRODUCT: Service Learning is an innovative method of learning. Accordingly, in lieu of the boring, mundane and oftentimes stressful typical final, you will prepare a product which analyzes your Service Learning site and illustrates the experience you have had over the course of the semester.

Presentation This is an opportunity for you to draw upon your creative talents but also employ your interests to demonstrate what you have learned. Develop a way to bring your classmates to your site: Are you a musician? Compose and perform a song Is acting your passion? Develop a deliver a monologue A photography buff? Present a photo essay Working on the next NYTimes bestseller? Write and read a short story Computer Geeks R Us member? Design an interactive computer program You have no talent? YES you do! Use whatever it may be The presentation piece of your product will be explained/demonstrated/displayed to your classmates on the College scheduled time for finals.

Summary The summary is analytical in nature and should address the following topics and questions: 1) Organizational Structure What is the name of the organization? Who are the clients? What are the goals of the organization? What constraints and opportunities are there? What did you do there and with whom? (be specific) 2) Differences What are the differences in race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, lifestyle among the staff, volunteers, clients? How are such differences dealt with? Do they cause problems? For whom? Are these problems manifest problems or latent problems? How are they addressed? Is this effective? Why or why not? 3) Concepts List at least three sociological concepts from your readings that you saw illustrated in your activities or in the organization's operation. These concepts should not be ones you have already used in your journal. Describe how the concepts connect to what you observed. Use one of the four major sociological perspectives to describe the organization. 4) Structural Change Do the activities of the organization contribute to structural changes in the local community? If so, how? If not, what could/should be done at this site to foster change? What suggestions can you offer to improve the area in which you worked, i.e. how might things be done differently but more efficiently or effectively? 5) Impact What impact does the organization have on its clients? On the community? What effect did you have there, i.e. how did you impact the people with whom you worked? What impact did your work have on you? 6) Personal Development What did you learn from this experience that you did not know before? How has the Service Learning experience changed what you thought you knew about organizations such as this? What has your work taught you about yourself? About your community? About your country?

GUIDELINES FOR JOURNAL: To learn by experience requires thoughtful reflection about those experiences. Reflection is the key for transforming service into learning. Thus, it is basic to the process of integrating service with academic concepts. An easy and effective method of reflection is journaling. The Service Learning journal is a series of informal writings which respond to your experience in the field. It is designed to enhance knowledge and skills and to increase capacity for reflection and action. Journaling not only demonstrates understanding about sociological concepts and their applications to society; it allows you to practice the skills of writing and critical thinking. You will find the journal to be most helpful if you take a few minutes at the end of each day at the site to write about your experiences there. Each journal entry should include the date and times you worked. When appropriate, you should deliberately apply the sociological concepts learned in class. It is here that your sociological imagination comes into play, so that you examine the intersection of community and your own biography. Before you begin your Service Learning experience, write an initial entry in your journal that discusses your expectations. You may discuss why you chose the specific site or anything that may have influenced your decision. Explore what you hope to get out of the experience, not only in terms of this specific course, but also in terms of your own personal development. Certainly the satisfaction of "doing good:" may be motivation enough, but there are also a number of other skills (social, critical thinking, administrative, cognitive, leadership, etc.) and benefits (self-confidence, knowledge, life experiences, potential job contacts, etc.) you might hope to gain. Think about how you will know when/if you have actually attained the desired benefits and skills. Finally, you should include in this first entry, a discussion of some of your anxieties or concerns about undertaking this project. It is not unreasonable to have such concerns (e.g. fitting in, not knowing what to do, feeling apprehensive or frustrated, etc.) However, articulating them may lead to a better understanding and/or their resolution. Beginning with the first week you are on site, and each subsequent week throughout the semester, post a one page (minimum) journal entry on Bulletin Board. By the end of the semester you should have posted a minimum of 12 entries, though you are not limited to that number. Each must link at least one of the terms from your list to what you experienced that week. You may use a term more than once but each subsequent use must be accompanied by a new term. For example if you reflect on witnessing poverty during week one, you may also write about poverty during weeks four, six and nine, but master status or morbidity or some other concept must also be utilized during those weeks. Immediately after your first service experience on site, take some time to record everything you remember about it. Note all the details, including sights, sounds, odors, tactile sensations, people, furniture, events, animals any and every thing you remember about the experience as well as your feelings associated with it. Remember, the journal you keep is reflective in nature rather than descriptive. Write about your feelings and reactions to the situation. This may include discussions of your emotional responses, contemplation of political implications, reflections on faith and morality, or any topics that move you. Entries should contain a wide range of possibilities, including but not limited to: raise questions, offer criticism, construct social policy, imagine possibilities, relate observations, theorize about an issue.

To be effective, the journal must not be a mere listing of events. It should be a means for you to provide focus to your experience so use it as such. Describe your feelings, perception, questions and ideas about what happened during the day. Let your thoughts roam freely and be candid in your writing.

INTERVIEW GUIDELINES: Although "virtual reality" claims to come as close as possible, people still cannot actually experience becoming someone else. Perspectives can, however, be broadened through a technique that is available to everyone. We become more enlightened about another's situation through dialogue. This assignment entails carrying on a conversation at your site with a person about whom you have little or no knowledge. The word "interview" may be a misnomer because you should not just be asking the person questions; you must also offer information about yourself. Thus, the interview becomes an opportunity to raise the level of understanding for both of you. At some point during the course of the semester identify one client, patron, or employee for an interview to ascertain that person's feelings about his/her connection with the site. Conduct the interview using a prepared list of questions as a guide. Your constructed list of questions should include queries that give you information about the person's cultural background, values and goals as well as his/her experiences at your placement site. Interviewees should be assured that their names will not be used and their responses will be kept strictly confidential, shown only to your instructor. You must, of course, abide by that assurance. You will turn in a typewritten report of your inter view which includes, but is not limited to the following: 1) Name and gender of person 2) Date and place of interview 3) Length of time of interview 4) Summary of the dialogue What is this person's opinion of your site? What else was discussed? Did the person seem comfortable talking to you? Why or why not? What was your level of comfort? 5) Points that caught your attention Did something he/she said evoke any emotion from you? Why? Which emotion and what was said? 6) Value of the discourse What did you learn from the conversation? How might you use this information? What do you have in common with this person?