Abstract

Service learning can be used as both a teaching and learning method that combines community service and course instruction. Service learning projects are designed to encourage students to become involved in their local communities and address local needs. While involved in the project, students can learn and develop academically. Service learning has been incorporated in therapeutic riding, animal management, and dairy science courses which has allowed agriculture students to meet the needs of their local communities. A survey of the literature shows a limited number of animal science courses with service learning as part of the curriculum. The use of service learning and service learning projects have been incorporated into two animal science courses at Stephen F. Austin State University since 2009. One course is a lower level course where students learn to artificially inseminate cattle. Students were required to complete the service learning project as part of course curriculum in order to pass the course. The students partnered with the local agriculture extension service to develop artificial insemination clinics to train high school participants in artificial insemination techniques. Post-course surveys from two semesters showed that students had a better understanding of the course material, attended class more regularly and were responsible for their learning. Students reported that service learning allowed them to understand course material better by participating in the service learning project than by performing a traditional research project. The project provided the students with the opportunity to improve their oral and written communication skills. By working with the community, the students gained an interest in becoming more involved in their communities as well as provided an immediate contribution to their community. The use of service learning in animal science courses serves an important role in student learning and development.

 

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