Career education-review-gary-meers-the-role-of-alumni-in-service-learning

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Dr. Gary Meers, Vice President of Education at MaxKnowledge, Inc., discusses the role of alumni in service learning in this article by the Career Education Review.

Dr. Gary Meers, Vice President of Education at MaxKnowledge, Inc., discusses the role of alumni in service learning in this article by the Career Education Review.

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  • 1. The Role of Alumni inService LearningBy Gary Meers, MaxKnowledge, Inc. A service-learning program canmake numerous contributions to the working with individuals and groups that come from diverse settings.education of students, provide assist-ance to communities, and sustain • Involves alumni in problem solvingconnections with alumni. The goal of in the specific context of the serviceservice learning is a set of outcomes activity and the community.at the conclusion of the learning Addresses complex problems inexperience. These outcomes vary for complex settings rather than inthe students, the recipients of the ser-vice efforts, and the hosting community. A service-learning programService Learning Benefits for Alumni can make numerous contri- butions to the education of • Transfers knowledge and skills from students, provide assistance the classroom to the community. to communities, and sustain Engages alumni in real and positive connections with alumni. ways and allows them to “practice” their skills under supervision isolation. All this has real world while expanding their expertise application that can help on the job. and enhancing their resumes. • Promotes teamwork and citizen- • Provides critical-thinking skills to ship. Collaboration provides identify issues and repeated oppor- experience in the challenges of tunities to develop these skills. DR. GARY MEERS is development. Dr. Meers started his career as a currently the vice vocational instructor, progressing to become a president of education at professor of education and human sciences at MaxKnowledge, Inc. His the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has background in career devoted his professional life to the improvement education includes of instruction for all students. research, consulting and training in the areas of Contact Information: instructor performance, Dr. Gary Meers curriculum development, Vice President of Education classroom management, MaxKnowledge, Inc. student motivation, 3943 Irvine Blvd. #262learning and assessment. He has authored over Irvine, CA 92602100 articles and conducted over 500 workshops Phone: (888) 626-2407, x.86on instructional improvement and professional E-mail: garym@maxknowledge.com
  • 2. 27 Career Education Review • April 2012 • Generates emotional consequences Another form of service learning is as individuals are invested in the advocacy. Advocacy service learning outcomes. helps individuals or groups advocate for themselves or their issues. For example, • Strengthens social responsibility an advocacy service-learning project and allows alumni to see them- working with unemployed or underem- selves as contributors for the ployed individuals could help develop common good. “soft skills” and “job readiness.” Advocacy service learning helps alumni • Builds self-confidence to seek job learn how to work in different commu- promotions and raises. nity settings and develop articulate and The categories of service learning are effective communication skills with academic, direct, indirect, and advocacy. different audiences. It helps alumni Academic service learning relates network with community leaders who to specific courses that alumni may might eventually hire these grads. assist with. Together with the instructor, Alumni PerceptionsBy making service learning assignments can be Alumni can be effective promotersa part of the curriculum, created such as and ambassadors for their careerstudents will understand the coaching, mentoring, college. This assumes they have hadvalue of continuing this focus teaching skills, or good experiences and feel prepared tolong after they graduate. working one-on-one be successful in the work place. The to increase student responsibility for student success and success. The benefit to alumni is satisfaction is the focus of all those more enhanced knowledge about involved with the institution, from the subject matter, plus leadership admissions through career services. and management. Faculty serves as the primary devel- Direct service learning is a common opers of positive alumni since students format for service learning. It provides spend ninety percent of their time experiences and diversity of oppor- with them. tunities at the institution. Indirect While in school, students form service learning starts with a plan opinions about the institution and the working with institution leaders. An level of association they will maintain example of indirect service is when after graduation. It is essential that graduates get involved with the state the institute focus on earning student association of schools and colleges and respect by developing rapport as they work on political action and lobbying become alumni. Alumni will then see the projects. It starts with a plan developed by the school and dependent on value they can bring to the students that political issues in the state. follow them. Recent grads understand Alumni involved in service learning how they can continue to influence should be encouraged to document and assist their institution. their involvement and write up their One of the ways that this can be done projects along with the successes and is to incorporate service learning into challenges. All this can be used to the curriculum. By making service enhance resumes and experience. It learning a part of the curriculum, shows leadership skills that can be students will understand the value of presented during job interviews. continuing this focus long after they
  • 3. Career Education Review • April 2012 28graduate. This mentality sets the stage can come from the students’ effort,for keeping grads involved and con- but also see the benefits alumni andnected with their institution. the college bring. Alumni that are experienced inService Learning Using Alumni service learning can share their Alumni that have participated in experiences with pre-service-learningservice learning while students will be students. Students get to hear fromreceptive to the idea of inviting students and interact with alumni that haveto visit their work sites. Alumni can help completed service-learning projects.identify service-learning opportunities Students get to observe graduatesin their communities. These grads that are successfully using theirknow how service learning works and education to achievehow projects are organized. This is a their career goals. Service learning is a com-great benefit for the service-learning This interaction is munity outreach effort thatcoordinator. The coordinator can set inspiring for all thoseup new service-learning projects quicker involved. Students benefits students and the com-because the concept of service learning see individuals munity being served as wellis already understood by alumni who that are modeling as alumni and their college.participated while students. successful career Expanded networking opportunities growth. Alumni have the satisfactionoccur when alumni identify potential of knowing that they are helping theservice-learning sites. The college next generation of students enterbenefits from these connections as their careers.potential placement sites. Career Career colleges have long usedservices staff is constantly looking for advisory committees to provide inputnew companies to contact for place- on such areas as course content,ment. Access to networks that alumni laboratory equipment, and supportare connected to expands outreach resources. Alumni are frequently askedopportunities. For the alumni, being a to serve on these committees. Many dopart of the college network and main- since they see their service as givingtaining an ongoing relationship with back to the college that helped themthe college expands their connections progress on their career paths. Byas well. All this increases their potential involving alumni in the service learningfor employment and career growth. outreach, their role is expanded beyond Using alumni to identify potential advisory committee participation. Thisservice-learning projects and sites is allows more targeted alumni input andvaluable. Alumni live and work in their participation in the students’ service-communities and are able to target learning projects.the greatest need levels there. When Service learning is a communitythe college seeks community service- outreach effort that benefits studentslearning projects they can generate and the community being served assupport because alumni know that the well as alumni and their college.project will meet a high level of need.The communities realize the value that