Several new programs started this semester in the College of Liberal Arts were initiated to enrich the quality of its students’ education.
The Experiential Learning Program, planned at Temple since January 2000, is one such program. Through experiential learning, students combine textbook knowledge acquired in the classroom with real-life experiences obtained elsewhere.
“Students go into the community and apply what they learned in class to the real world,” said Lori Pompa, Director of Experiential Learning.
Several forms of experiential learning exist. Through internships, a student spends a semester working in a field related to his or her major for university credit. Often, classroom instruction complements the internship.
In service learning, students perform community service related to the content of a particular course. Such service often involves tutoring students, working with the homeless or assisting adults who have trouble reading. The activities of the students assist both individuals and the community as a whole in a reciprocated manner.
“Each party involved in service learning receives something from it. Everyone has something to provide and something to give back,” said Pompa.
Fieldtrips in which students visit places that relate to the material that they learn in their classes also fall under the category of experiential learning.
Experiential learning classes at Temple encompass a wide variety of majors and fields. In the Political Science department, Professors Robin Kolodny and Sandra Suàrez teach Campaign 2000, a class involving both an instruction component and an internship component in which students worked with various campaigns throughout the tri-state area, documenting their experiences.
While interning for various candidates, students performed many different tasks, ranging from answering phones to fundraising. Junior Matt Noel worked with the Senatorial campaign for Ron Klink and his assistance was warmly received.
“Klink’s campaign wasn’t as organized as others, so they were glad for my help, and I was given many assignments and lots of responsibilities,” he said.
Overall, students had differing feelings towards their stints as interns, but many agreed that the experience had its benefits.
“Whether the experience was good or bad, we’re all now informed on what a campaign is really like and how it operates,” said senior Political Science student Aviva Kievsky.
Adds sophomore Mike Pilla, “Before I took this class, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be involved with politics. I still love politics, but I realized that I didn’t want to be involved in it because of the pressure.”
Other experiential learning classes throughout the university include Dr. Evelyn Tribble’s English class in which students interested in education learn how to teach Shakespeare in a classroom setting. The class meets twice a week: once in a classroom at Temple and once at Bache-Martin Middle School, where they teach fifth graders how to perform a scene from Macbeth.
“This offers students a learning experience, letting them know what it’s like to be in a classroom,” Tribble said.
Also, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded the university’s Institute for Literature, Literacy, and Culture a $600,000 grant to fund the Literacy in Action: Writing Beyond the Curriculum program. This program, a subset of the University Writing Program, links Temple students with other college students, high school students and those in the community that need literacy assistance.
“The goal of the Writing Beyond the Curriculum program is to show students how literacy operates in the real world and to convince students that writing matters in their lives,” said University Writing Director Eli Goldblatt. “The biggest thing that students find out after graduation is that writing, reading and oral communication are essential, and this is true for all respects of life and in all careers.”
The Writing Beyond the Curriculum program borrows several aspects from the experiential learning program, most notably service learning. Temple students go into local elementary and high schools and tutor children and adolescents. Students also tutor older immigrants in English through Project SHINE.
The Knight Foundation grant also helps to fund the Writing Associates Program. started in the fall of 1999, students are trained to tutor their peers in First Year Composition. The grant will help expand the tutoring to provide assistance to students who have difficulty in their Intellectual Heritage classes.
In addition, the grant will fund the implementation of several new Writing-Intensive experiential learning classes throughout the College of Liberal Arts, with a special emphasis on service learning partnerships with various government offices, workplaces and other important community institutions. The grant will also help expand the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, allowing Temple to appoint a Director of ESL (English as a Second Language) to improve tutoring and other academic resources to students from other countries.
A community press founded by the Institute, the New City Press, also receives funding from the grant. Founded in 1998, the New City Press has published several projects, most recently the Open City Journal. This journal contains works by Temple students, professors, and members of the surrounding communities participating in various literacy projects.