Thursday, December 22, 2011

Promoting child literacy through transformational learning

Students in Tammy Oberg De La Garza's READ 320 collaborated with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association during Fall 2012 to promote child literacy through transformational learning.

Her students document how much they learned in compelling videos. These undergraduates describe how they not only helped others, but also how the experience affected their personal development.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Transformational Learning Update for 2011

Transformational learning anchors the university's social justice mission in the classroom, allows students to reach out into the community as part of their coursework, and helps students become engaged citizens who have the tools to promote social change.  The unique and innovative model of service learning that we have developed at Roosevelt University actively involves students in addressing social problems as it allows them to help individuals in our neighborhoods.

We are happy to share that the use of transformational learning has dramatically expanded at Roosevelt over the past two years.  Many instructors have started to use service learning as part of the Mansfield Institute's work in interrupting the "cradle to prison pipeline."  Others faculty have embraced service learning through new partnerships between the MISJT and other units at the university.

Consider this quick comparison that reflects the growth in transformational learning.  In Fall 2009, instructors offered 16 classes that included transformational learning, with a total enrollment of 169 students.  In Fall 2011, this number is now 42 sections, enrolling 623 students.

Transformational learning has been infused as an option within the general educational curriculum.  Jan Bone's section of LIBS 201 (Writing Social Justice) is one innovative illustration.  This growth has encompassed virtually all sectors of the university.

We are pleased to expand our support of social justice-oriented courses and programs within the Heller College of Business, including their social entrepreneurship undergraduate business major and MBA concentration, internship programming, and applied opportunities to address chronic social issues (such as poverty and food security) through firm-level solutions.  We are similarly happy to report that transformational learning has become emblematic of particular departments at Roosevelt: 18% of undergraduate classes offered by the Department of Psychology during Spring 2012 will have a transformational learning component.

The Mansfield Institute has been able to support this work by providing grants, teaching assistants, and guidance about how to include service learning into coursework.  We have deepened partnerships with community organizations that address social inequality to facilitate the placement process for students.  These successes reflect the dedication of Roosevelt University faculty to the social justice mission and illustrate their commitment to using effective teaching methods that help transform students into socially-conscious individuals.

Teaching Assistant Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the Mansfield Institute's Teaching Assistant Grant Program for Spring 2012.  Each of these faculty members will be able to hire an undergraduate or graduate level teaching assistant to help them implement transformational service learning during the upcoming semester.

This is the second year of this highly successful program, and we are happy to support innovative uses of service learning that will allow students to develop a deeper understanding of class concepts by their outreach in the community.  Roosevelt University students in these classes, for example, will conduct background research for Occupy Chicago, analyze the effectiveness of programs offered by the Young Men's Educational Network in North Lawndale, help a community organization develop assisted housing facilities, and assist in the afterschool programs at Whittier Elementary School in Pilsen.

Congratulations to this year's awardees:

Jan Bone (English Composition)
LIBS 201 - Writing Social Justice

Jennifer Clark (Economics)
ECON 102 - Introduction to Microeconomics

Tammy Oberg De La Garza (Education)
READ 323- Teaching Reading through Children's Literature

Melissa Sisco (Psychology)
PSYC 387 - Child Abuse and Family Violence

Fabricio Prado (History)
HIST 112 - The World since 1500

Lisa Lu (Psychology)
PSYC 310/BIOL 310 - Fundamentals of Behavioral Neuroscience

Sofia Dermisi and Jon DeVries (Finance and Real Estate)
REES 441 - Real Estate Design and Feasibility

John McDonald and Jon DeVries (Finance and Real Estate)
REES 451 - Public/Private Development

Alfred DeFreece (Sociology)
SOC 290 - The Research Process
SOC 480 - Sociological Theory and Methods

Erik Gellman (History)
HIST/SOCJ 201 - Introduction to Social Justice Studies

Tana McCoy (Criminal Justice)
CJL 220 - Juvenile Justice

George Seyk (Heller College of Business)
BADM 398, MGMT 492, ACCT 492 - Internships

Tom Farmer (Psychology)
PSYC 381 - Children and Families

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transformational learning in LIBS 201: Writing Social Justice

On the first day of class in September, students in Jan Bone’s Fall 2011 Writing Social Justice course in Schaumburg (Liberal Studies 201) did not know they had signed up for a course that could include transformational learning. However, more than two thirds of them opted to take part in the transformational project on domestic violence. The rest of the class studied an alternative curriculum on immigration issues. Those that chose to be a part of transformational learning were paired with contacts provided by Agnes Masnik, Illinois State Senator Matt Murphy’s district director and secretary of the Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence, headquartered in Palatine and near the Roosevelt/Schamburg campus. The contacts Masnik provided to students were all members of the Alliance and are committed to promoting prevention of domestic violence.

Over the 2011 summer, Bone and Masnik met several times to coordinate how to make the partnership between Roosevelt University students and the Alliance work effectively for everyone involved. Together they hatched the idea of creating blog postings where student authors would write-up their interviews with participating members of the Alliance. Bone and Masnik both spoke highly of their experiences working together on the transformational learning portion of the course; each wanted to give the other lots of credit for her work.

The 16 students who chose to partner with an Alliance member or agency went through a process of choosing a partner, requesting an interview with them, interviewing them, preparing questions, and actually interviewing. Interview questions were prepped as a class assignment and reviewed by Bone before the students met their individual contacts.

Students learned a great deal about interviewing skills as well as skills geared toward writing up an acceptable short interview report for their blogs on the Alliance website. Bone talked with her students about audience and purpose and the need to consider both when interviewing and writing up the material. Each interview piece went through multiple revisions with the help of Bone and Masnik before being published on the blog. Besides the end goal of posting their work on the Alliance’s blog, the students also were working to finish their pieces as a promotional timed to run concurrently and shortly after the Domestic Violence awareness event co-sponsored by Roosevelt and the Alliance called “Break the Silence on Relationship Violence” held on October 27th at the Schaumburg campus.

The partnership between Bone’s students and the members of the Alliance was at times complicated, but it was also valuable. It took a lot of coordination between the students and their designated contacts to find a time where they could even talk about setting up a meeting, much less actually meet. Bone also reported that she liked the challenge and will run a similar transformational learning course in Spring 2012 with the help of a teaching assistant using a $2000 grant from the Mansfield Institute of Social Justice and Transformational Learning for the course. The $2000 scholarship will be applied to the student’s Spring 2012 tuition.

Masnik elaborated that in a time where nonprofits are struggling to provide a service, the organizations were able to have the students help spread their message of social justice. The students’ blog entries were a new medium whereby attention was being drawn to something that needed attention: the cycle of domestic violence. The students also got a lot out of the experiences in the class as well. Not only did they learn interviewing strategies and improve their writing skills, but also they had the chance to learn by experiencing and being able to work with someone in the field. They enjoyed seeing their bylines published with their blogs, as well as the credit line for Roosevelt’s Social Justice classes.

The students were able to go to the sources to learn -- taking their learning a step farther than a textbook is able. Transformational learning also made the students feel involved, powerful, and as if they were actually doing something meaningful. After all, how many college sophomores get to interview a mayor or police chief and have their work published?

Bone’s transformational learning course gave them those opportunities. Her Spring 2012 class in Writing Social Justice will work closely with staffers from CEDA Northwest Self-Help Center, a non-profit agency that works in partnership with 14 communities to achieve self-sufficiency and improve their quality of life. CEDA Northwest serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Elgin, Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg and Wheeling.

Check out the students' blog posting on the Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence page at