Developing, implementing, assessing, and evaluating service-learning in entomology
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Insects are ideal models for demonstrating a broad array of biological and ecological concepts while providing opportunities to focus on the application of biology to solve real-world problems in local communities, and the international community. Service-learning and study-abroad opportunities are critical components for creating an environment of increased academic engagement for undergraduate students at the University of Georgia. Service-learning, an experiential pedagogy, engages students and faculty to participate actively in their surrounding communities in educationally meaningful ways by creating an environment of active learning while bringing entomology to the public. Mutually beneficial and sustainable projects with community partners allow students to solve local problems through first-hand experiences. Integrating service-learning into the entomology curriculum at UGA provides students an opportunity to participate in developing and implementing entomological programs for the community both domestically and internationally. The first objective of this study was to develop, implement, assess and evaluate service-learning courses in entomology. The second objective was to examine the effects of service-learning on student’s civic outcomes. In 2006, two service-learning courses were created in the Department of Entomology, Outreach and Service-Learning (ENTO 3900) and Insect Natural History in Costa Rica: International Service-Learning (ENTO 3140-3140L). To evaluate effectively these two service-learning courses in entomology at UGA, a triangulated mixed method design was chosen using simultaneously collected qualitative and quantitative data. Results suggest that service-learning enhances students’ interest in science, teaching, communication, and civic skills. Service-learning courses integrated with community outreach programs were implemented both domestically and abroad.