Friday, April 19, 2013

Request for Proposals: Transformational Learning Grants

RFPs are now being accepted for faculty interested in applying for funding to support teaching Transformational Service Learning courses.

The RFP can be found at:

Applications are due by May 14th to Heather Dalmage,

Questions can be directed to:
Nikita Stange,

Profiles of service learning at the Roosevelt University Mini-Conference on Teaching

Over the past decade, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Provost's Office at Roosevelt University has sponsored the Roosevelt University Mini-Conference on Teaching (or "RUMCOT").  Through this venue, faculty members at the university have been sharing best practices or personal implementations.

I compiled all of the presentations that focused on transformational service learning from the conference Proceedings, and you can download them here. 

Integrating service learning into your class: Merging educational and social justice goals (2012)
by Amy L. D. Roberts, Kimberly Dienes, and Steven Meyers

Lessons learned from an ambitious service learning class (2010)
by Cami K. McBride, Carrie Miller, and Valerie Vorderstrasse

Getting to transformation with service-learning (2009)
by Erik Gellman, Elizabeth Meadows, Steven A. Meyers, Pamela M. Robert, and Robert Seiser

Integrating service-learning into the business curriculum (2008)
by Carolyn Wiley

Including service-learning in your class: How we did it (2007)
by Steven A. Meyers, Patrick M. Green, Linda Pincham, and Robert Seiser

Can transformative pedagogy change the way you teach? (2006)
by Steven A. Meyers

Service-learning: A guide to course implementation (2005)
by Patrick M. Green

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Transformational learning on talk radio!

Listen to Mike Boehler and Marie Lazzara as they interview Melissa Stutz, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies at Roosevelt University and Hiba Dababneh, a Roosevelt University student who is enrolled in the university’s Walter E. Heller College of Business.  They discuss the concept of social justice at Roosevelt University, and how transformational learning during their education changed their experiences.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Internships and Transformational Learning

Internships can provide powerful transformational learning experiences during college.  They allow students to gain hands-on experience in actual work settings, improve and explore career prospects, enhance students' resumes, and help develop professional references for graduate schools and jobs.  Because they are much lengthier than other forms of service-learning (they typically range between 100 and 250 hours in duration), internships permit greater immersion into these settings and allow students to make more sustained contributions to the community.

At Roosevelt, students can complete internship classes within particular disciplines.  Some of these opportunities are required because they are viewed as integral to professional development.  For instance, all students within teacher training programs offered by the College of Education will gain extensive field experiences through student teaching placements and seminars.  However, in most fields, it is an option that undergraduates may choose to pursue for varying amounts of credit in courses such as these:

ACCT 398: Accounting Internship
ART 390: Fine Art Internship
BADM 398: Professional Business Administration Internship
BIOL 391: Medical Internship
CJL 395: Criminal Justice Internship
ECON 360: Internship in Economics
FIN 398: Finance Internship
HIST 384: Internship in History
HOSM 385: Internship in Hospitality Management
HRM 398: Human Resource Management Internship
IMC 399: Internship in Integrated Marketing Communications
INFS 398: Information Systems Internship
JOUR 399: Internship in Journalism
LAWA L30: Paralegal Internship
MGMT 398: Professional Internship in Management
MKTG 398: Internship in Marketing
PADM 398: Field Internship in Public Administration
POS 338: Field Internship in Politics and Law
PSYC 393: Internship in Psychology
SENT 398: Social Entrepreneurship  Internship
SOCJ 360: Social Justice Internship
WGS 399: Internship in the Community

Students often aren't aware that they may pursue an internship and need encouragement and appropriate advising.  The educational benefits for well-designed placements are clearly established, as internships have been designated as a high impact practice by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Moreover, internships can be tailored to address social justice themes consistent with each discipline to connect with Roosevelt's mission.

In addition to assistance provided by departments, students can find possible internship placements by contacting the staff in the Career Development Office.  They can help them identify ideal opportunities, utilize their online resources, write a resume, and support students through the internship process.  Start with their site online at  You can find instructions about how to search their internship databases by clicking here.

For departments that want to create or expand internship programs at Roosevelt, it can be helpful to refer to those that provide online materials, such as the Heller College of Business, Economics/Social Justice, and Psychology.  The Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation can provide assistance as well.

Service Learning in Introductory Economics

Students at Roosevelt University in social work, psychology, and education majors may expect that some of their classes might include a service-learning component. However, when Professor Jenifer Clark’s 46 students showed up for their first day of Principles of Economics II (Economics 102) class, they found that the course required them to go out in to the field. Service learning at Roosevelt University isn't confined to certain majors. Rather,  all students at Roosevelt can benefit from trying to apply their newfound knowledge to real life.

Professor Clark devised a service-learning plan that she hoped would expose students to how people in different life circumstances think about economic policy. With the help of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, Professor Clark connected with an array of individuals in with different perspectives on what types of economic policies are likely to promote a healthy economy. Professor Clark split the students up into groups and assigned them to either meet with an architect, a marketing CEO, two traders from the Chicago Board of Trade, a human relations professional, two individuals involved in the Occupy movement, or individuals experiencing homelessness at Dignity Diner. Professor Clark ensured that students with a variety of political views joined each group. The students used class time to meet with their groups, do research on economic policy, and prepare questions for their interview. 

Many of the students disclosed to Professor Clark that their interviews considerably impacted their lives. Those who met with homeless people at Dignity Diner described that their preconceived notions about homelessness had been shattered after getting to know real people in that situation. Students who initially felt extremely critical of the Occupy movement shifted their positions after meeting with those involved. Some group members who met with business professionals suddenly felt a surge of motivation to figure out what they wanted to do after college. The students who visited the Chicago Board of Trade described the sense of awe they felt while observing the action on the floor. Professor Clark required students to write a research paper and create a presentation about economic policy from the perspective of those they had interviewed. Many of Dr. Clark’s students had to take political positions opposite of their own in order to complete the assignment. 

Overall, Professor Clark deemed the service-learning component of her class incredibly successful. She explained that everyone involved in the process found the experience rewarding. Many of the interviewees contacted Professor Clark to gush about how impressed they had been by the students’ interview preparation and professionalism. Professor Clark described the students as deeply passionate during the execution of their presentations, and she rated the students’ research papers as exceptional. She surveyed the students at the end of the course to examine their impressions of the project. Many of them admitted their initial hesitation when they realized they would have to complete a transformational service-learning project. However, 46 of 46 students recommended that Professor Clark incorporate a service-learning component to the class in the future. Professor Clark noted that the students gained much more than just an ability to apply economic theory to real life. Throughout this project, the students also fostered their ability to see multiple sides of an issue, take the perspective of others, and challenge their own beliefs. Furthermore, the students gained exposure to different professions, practiced presenting themselves professionally, and gained networking experience.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Troubled youth mentored by RU Psychology students

Inspiration, hope for the future, and much-needed interactions were provided for boys and girls on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network in Chicago.

Located at 3730 North California Ave., UCAN provides residential housing for troubled youths who have faced physical or sexual abuse, have been neglected by parents or face mental illness. Youth can reside at the facility up until age 19 and in some cases until they’re 21 years old, according to UCAN officials.

“UCAN strives to build strong youth and families through compassionate healing, education and empowerment,” according to its website.

An Affirmative statement is given for each week’s mentoring session. This week’s statement was:
“I truly believe that my haters are my motivators because they wish they were me but can’t be” - Nicki Minaj

The program, BoutIt, stands for Bringing Out Unity  Through Interactive Transition. The course, ACP 250, is cross-listed with a psychology course titled “Youth Violence Intervention and Theory.”
Approximately 35 mentors and their mentees sat down together on Wednesday to discuss how the day went and if any issues came up before starting the session’s activities.

Dr. Melissa Sisco, the Roosevelt professor who teaches the course, has 15 years of experience in dealing with at-risk youth and has mentored imprisoned youth for four years. Sisco provided the student mentors with a rundown of what the activities would be for the day.

Sisco said that it took students from business and psychology majors to put this program together and she is thankful for the transformations she has witnessed in the past six weeks. Spencer Scott and Carlo Villarosa are students who led the boys’ and girls’ sides of the room, respectively.

Sisco said young people like Darnell Owens, Spencer Scott, Chase Zvonek and Carlo Villarosa helped to create the foundation for the BoutIt mentorship program and truly bring it to life.  And they all bring different types of expertise with undergraduate backgrounds in  business, education, accounting, and psychology.

”We found a way to allow RU students to learn about violence through critical thinking and comparisons of research and real world topics,” Sisco said, “and to learn problem solving, making goals, and creating change through practicing it.”

Pamela Wilson, UCAN’s residential therapeutic recreation coordinator, said the most common issue with these kids is having trouble in school and not following the program in terms of treatment plans. Treatment plans refer to taking medication and participating in therapy sessions. There are 62 boys and girls aged 12 to 17 who are currently housed at UCAN.

“We’ll take a kid who has poor social skills, struggling psychologically, struggling educationally, and struggling behavior wise, and we design a treatment plan for them,” Wilson said.

“It is hard to chart the progress because we have a wide range of kids with a wide range of issues,” she said.

Spencer Scott and Brenda Lara, who led the girls’ mentoring, agreed that the girls open up more easily and are more laid back than the boys. Even though Scott is the only boy on the girls’ side, he lets Lara do most of the leading.

“I don’t do any of the actual leading because I thought it was important that it’s very female led for the females,” Scott said.

Scott and Lara said that support is provided for the girls during activities every Wednesday and that the girls have opened up to the student mentors.

Leading the boys’ side are Darnell Owens and Carlo Villarosa. They said the boys have a harder time opening up and are separated from the girls  because, often times, they will try to impress members of the opposite gender.

“Boys are rambunctious, and they just like to be actively doing something; and talking isn’t actively doing something,” said Villarosa.

“I wouldn’t say a bad experience, but a little challenging because we have a few children with behavioral problems and special needs,” said Owens, when asked about his experiences in the program thus far.

Some lessons Owens said he would like to pass on to the boys are, “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future,” and we are “empowering our students to be a difference in young people’s lives.”

Villarosa and Owens both said that mentoring these boys has not only changed the youth for the better but also created created a positive change for classmates as well. They both described BoutIt as a “dual-learning experience.”

For more information about this transformational program, please contact Dr. Melissa Sisco at (520) 977-6485 or

From the Roosevelt University Torch (10/29/2012)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Learning through mentoring, consulting, and current events

This fall Dr. Amy Roberts, an assistant professor of developmental psychology at Roosevelt University, is asking RU graduate students to engage in service-learning by helping Chicago community members answer questions like:

• Are there gender differences in littering behavior?
• How are relationships between employees and their supervisors influenced by a strike?
• How can local manufacturers best attract and retain quality employees?

Dr. Roberts got the idea to offer Advanced Research Methods (PSYC 530) as a service-learning course when she was mentoring an 8th grader with the Spark program ( Spark is a national program that matches youth with mentors working in the careers of their choice for apprenticeships.  Dr. Roberts realized that she was covering many of the major topics addressed in her research methods courses through this mentorship with an 8th grader interested in psychology research. She thought students could learn about social science research through meaningful service to Chicago communities.  

Learning through mentoring

Graduate students pursuing MAs in clinical psychology are introducing Chicago area students to social science research by guiding them through conducting social science research projects. Twelve RU graduate students visit students once a week to help them articulate questions about human behavior and design methods for answering them. This mentoring has been made possible through partnerships with the Spark program and visionary teachers at Enrico Fermi Elementary, Crete-Monee High and St. Albert schools. These mentorships enable graduate students pursuing a Masters in clinical psychology to apply the research methods concepts discussed in class while gaining experience guiding children in working through challenging questions.  

Learning through researching current events

The recent teacher strike interrupted students’ mentorship projects, but also provided opportunities to ask new research questions. A small group of psychology graduate students who had not yet started projects with youth at local schools decided instead to study issues related to the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike. Students will be exploring teacher’s feelings about the strike, how relationships between teachers and administrators have been impacted by the strike, and how the experience of this particular labor strike compares to that of workers involved in other recent Chicago area strikes. These graduate students are applying research methods to answering pertinent questions while gaining experience working with labor communities following difficult changes in relationships relate to the strike.  

Learning through consulting

A third group of psychology graduate students pursuing MA in Industrial and Organizational psychology are working with Polyair, a local company who’s human resources manager, Juliana Lopez, is a Roosevelt University I/O Psychology Masters alum. These students will be helping Polyair to improve their procedures for recruitment and retention of high quality employees. This community partnership was supported by the Organizational Effectiveness Consulting Center of the Psychology Department at Roosevelt University. Graduates planning work in industrial and organizational psychology are learning to bridge research and practice while making important connections with local business.