New Service Learning Project Provides Practical Experience for Students

November 6, 2013

Building Connections for Success Title V program includes a new service learning project in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Assistant Professor Dr. Stefanie Drew is excited about this new development and for California State University, Northridge students to be able to “give back to the community”.

Dr. Drew is the professor for PSY 369 Applied Cognition course, which is the first service learning project done with this course.  Drew’s goal for the course centers on the application of cognitive theories and perceptions to the real world.

“Professor Drew exudes high energy,” said 23-year-old psychology major Jaclyn Lewis.  “She challenges you, but will help you learn and apply theories properly.”

For this course, the students partner with the AS Children’s Center.  During the semester, students work in teams to consult with students who are parents to discuss effects of time management on memory, studying, sleep and thinking patterns.

“The service learning is the best part,” said PSY 369 student and psychology major Uilani Elmer.  “We are putting all of these broad theories in to narrow applications.  We are helping the AS Children’s Center which in turn is helping our community.  We can see the effects of the things we are learning in class.  I am learning it much better from the practical approach.”

The practical nature of this course functions to enhance a student’s knowledge through application and performance.  The student’s are expected to behave professionally despite the classroom connections.

“The students are cognitive consultants in training,” said Drew. “The course is heavily research based and hands-on approach.”

Students apply research methods and theory they have learned within the classroom when consulting on this project.  Before conducting consultations, students reflect on questions like “what do we need to know from the client?”

“My students run their own focus groups with parents to discover what problems they stress out about,” said Drew.  “After the students find out which aspects the student parents are most concerned, the PSY 369 students begin the necessary research to provide an informational tool for those student parents.”

PSY 369 students meet for lecture twice a week and with Drew on Fridays for an hour to discuss reflections and brainstorming.  Students will meet with their team outside the class to further their project.

“This course requires me to interact and work with my peers, which not many other courses do,” said Jesse Ruiz, PSY 369 student and Psychology senior.  “The class maintained professionalism within a classroom setting.  I am able to get involved and make a difference in the community as a student.”

At the end of the semester, the “cognitive consultants” will develop pamphlets or another informational tool that will aid students who are parents with time management.

Drew mentions it is a “reflective process” because students are able to recall what they expected at the beginning and it applied.  Students are also able to discuss the most rewarding part of the project.

“It is treated like a job, but the students are able to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment,” said Drew.  “These students apply the theories they read and learn about to a real situation.  They are professionals.”

Non-psychology majors are encouraged to take the course because the experience is one that applies to managing one’s everyday life.

“This class provides a hands-on approach on a big scale,” said Elmer.  “The topic is interesting, even if you are not a psychology major, you can apply it to your own life.  It can enhance your life by you recognizing the way that you study, sleep and think.”