Disability and Service Learning

I have no doubt that service learning needs to be a central part of the disability and physical activity course. For example, I can lecture about the movement patterns of a child with cerebral palsy or discuss the behavioral challenges of working with a kid with autism all term BUT students will probably learn more (despite my attempts to be a great classroom teacher!) from working directly with these individuals. Thus, service learning in EXSS 444/544 could greatly enhance the students understanding of the material and engagement with the material. That said, I’ve not historically been successful with integrating the ‘practical’ portion of class with the ‘academic’ portion so that is my current challenge.

Concurrently with taking this course I am redesigning EXSS 444 to be a hybrid course and have “flipped” the classroom so the academic portion is covered online and the face-to-face time is spent completing practical activities. Thus, I have a great opportunity to create discussion opportunities – both in the classroom and online. 

My initial thoughts are;

1. Include a “case study” activity near the beginning of the term that involves students being placed into groups of 5 and each having 15 minutes to discuss a ‘challenge’ they are currently facing during their practical experience. Students could then brainstorm together, using their notes, text, articles, own experiences, etc, to develop an action plan to overcoming the challenge. This action plan can then be submitted and re-evaluated/ adjusted later in the term.

2. Create a midterm and final reflective log that includes students discussing their experiences (e.g., challenges, positives, understanding of civic responsibility, application of course content to what they are seeing, etc). As part of the midterm log students would describe 3 things they plan on working on/improving in the second half of the term – these points can then be evaluated in the final log. This could also be completed as a blog feature on Bb or perhaps involve students reflecting on their experiences at the end of each week? (rather than a midterm/final approach). Karen had also suggested having the students interview the parent/caregiver of the individual with a disability to understand from their point of view the role of physical activity and the service being provided – I’d like this to be part of the reflection also as I think it would tie into the civic responsibility piece nicely.

3. Discussion boards on Bb to allow students to post challenges they are facing (as they occur throughout the term). This discussion board can provide a venue for students to interact and post their thoughts and suggestions – this could be a requirement of the course to post each week and respond to a classmates issues or successes. I would place individuals in groups of 5-6 students online so that the discussion board is more manageable and personalized.

4. Include specific discussion sessions in class linking the academic material presented online to the experiences the students are having with the practicum. This will be a little trickier and I need to flesh this idea out a little more.


Finally – I’ve spent some time working up some ‘draft’ paperwork for the revised course. I can’t see how to attach it to this blog so I will send it to Michelle to perhaps share with the group as a starting point for my course as well as anyone else who wants to use it. I created most of it and borrowed some from colleagues. 


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