Integrated Learning Community Program
Gerry Rasmussen, English
Elizabeth Skinner, Reading
GateWay Community College
The CLOUT Program
GateWay Community College, one of ten colleges
in the Maricopa Community College District (MCCD), has developed an Integrated
Learning Community, CLOUT, which uses Service-Learning as the central point
of integration. GWCC has initiated a series of Integrated Learning Communities
which combine several courses within a single program of instruction presented
to a single cohort of students by a team of teachers. The purpose of the
CLOUT Integrated Learning Community is to integrate three college level
language communication skill courses around the theme that language skill
is power. The nine credit community consists of:
COM 100 Introduction to Human Communication
a survey course covering interpersonal communication, small group communication,
and public speech
CRE 101 Critical and Evaluative Reading I
a source based reading course focusing on critical thinking, evaluation,
ENG 101 First Year Composition
a first semester course covering expository writing
The primary goals of CLOUT are to:
Some students entering CLOUT have taken developmental classes, while
others have scored directly into the college level English and reading
courses on the college assessment test. The majority of the CLOUT students
have been at-risk students. Some of the students were currently dealing
with overwhelming physical and/or personal problems. Some had a history
of social, economic, and/or personal problems (i.e. former gang membership,
drug related problems and/or prison records, teenage pregnancy).
The Learning Community approach represents a departure from current practice, and it requires a major restructuring of the curriculum.
Care is taken to ensure that by the end of the semester, all competencies from all three courses are covered. However, daily lesson plans and assignments are topic driven rather than course driven. Consequently, on any given day, time is not necessarily equally spent in each of the three courses. For example, we spent an entire (4 hour) day covering speech presentation and another covering small group communication. This same approach applies to the critical reading course and the English course. Effort is made throughout the semester to identify and discuss complementary and parallel themes across the three courses. Table One shows the integration of concepts as identified in CLOUT. Assignments are graded by one or both of the instructors identified with one or more of the three courses.
CLOUT was taught as a series of overlaps in curriculum. Early in the semester, key concepts of communication were presented in all three courses. By mid semester, information specific to two of the courses was being presented. Focus was on essay interpretation (emphasized in reading and English), public speech writing (emphasized in both communication and English), and small group practice (emphasized in both communication and reading). At the end of the semester, content specific to individual courses was presented (essay critiquing in reading, essay writing involving argumentation and comparative analysis in English, and public speech in communication).
Without the Service-Learning project, the integration would have begun
to unravel here, resulting in confusion. However, with Service-Learning,
even content specific to individual courses was integrated as assignments
were tied into the Service-Learning project.
Service-Learning in CLOUT
The Service-Learning component in CLOUT began during the third week
of the semester. The intent was to use Service-Learning as a true learning
tool; to emphasize the learning component in the Service-Learning concept.
Our students worked in small groups of 4-6 members with a homebase at a
local middle school located in a primarily low income neighborhood and
serving primarily at-risk children.
An overview of the perspective outlined in The Quickening of America:
Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives by Lapp and Du Bois (See
Table Two) was given to the students about three weeks into the semester.
The Service-Learning Coordinator visited the class and discussed the concept
of Service-Learning. She also gave all the needed information regarding
policies and paperwork.
****Tables will be edited at a later date.
Areas of Concept Integration in CLOUT
|Intentional and unintentional messages||Reading between the lines|
|Feedback or environmental cues||List of feedback cues makes reading difficult|
|Transactional (at best)||Linear||Transactional (at best)|
|Empathy||Approaching the reader in an open manner; not allowing emotion
to block thinking;
|Nonverbal communication and
|Selective Perception and Perceptual Set||Problems with observational evidence|
|Proximity||Idea and correlation in discussions of cause and effect||Organization of cause and effect|
|Enlarging and simplifying||Propaganda technique|
|Stereotyping||Emotion interferes with critical reading;
individual perceptions affect the understanding of a passage if attention is not paid to reading
|Clearly stating your point so the reader can separate your point from the reader's reaction to your point|
TABLE ONE (continued)
|Connotative language and misunderstanding||Connotative language||Definition|
|(Lack of) concrete or specific language;
|Euphemisms and loaded labels||Inability to get point across|
|Misunderstandings which result when using abstract language||Vagueness||Misunderstandings which result when using abstract language|
|Ability to understand more universal concepts by understanding abstract language||Raising level from personal to universal|
|Using informative and persuasive speech||Understanding informative and persuasive language||Using informative and persuasive language|
|Persuasive speech||Understanding the position of the opponent||Refuting the position of the opponent|
|Detail (credentials and use of facts)||Critical thinking||Detail (credentials and use of facts)|
|Writing should be based on experience and the relation of detail to larger truths|
|Dialectic thinking||Argument--need to recognize the best points of the opposition (for the purpose of refutation)|
|Self concept||Make a decision|
The Service-Learning Concept
In the face of distress, typically, our culture communicates that there are only three ways to respond:
1. Give up! Just focus on doing well ourselves because we are unable to change the world.
2. Protest! Make demands. Fight for the right choice--and get a few rewards for feeling self righteous.
3. Sacrifice! Deny your own self-interests in order to relieve the suffering
New Choice: The Concept of Service-Learning
Get involved in quiet change. Benefit self and others in the culture.
Myths of Public Life
Myth 1: Public life is what someone else has.
Limiting Myth: Officials and celebrities--people who want to be in the limelight--have public lives. Public life is for the educated and the experts. It's also for "activists"--people who like making waves.
Empowering Insight: We each have a public life. Every day--at
school, where we work, where we worship, within civic and social groups,
as well as at the polls--our behavior shapes the public world. Public life
draws on the strengths of all of us.
Myth 2: Public life is unappealing and unrewarding.
Limiting Myth: Public life is a necessary evil, a means of protecting our private lives. Public problems are just too big. It's too depressing to get involved against such odds. It's too easy to burn out.
Empowering Insight: Public life serves a deep human need: to
know that one's life counts and can make a difference the larger world.
It is just as essential to our growth and happiness as is private life.
Myth 3: Public life means ugly conflict.
Limiting Myth: Public life is nasty. It's cutthroat. . . It's all about conflict, while most people just want some peace and harmony in their lives.
Empowering Insight: In public life we encounter differences.
. . But conflict doesn't have to be nasty or destructive. It can be healthy
and informative, bringing insights about ourselves and new perspectives
for solving problems.
Myth 4: Public life competes with a satisfying private life.
Limiting Myth: Most of the time public life simply interferes with a healthy private life.
Empowering Insight: Public life often enhances our private life.
Myth 5: We must squelch our self-interest for the common good.
Limiting Myth: We should enter public life to serve the common good, trying to leave our own interests behind.
Empowering Insight: Trying only to serve others in public life
can defeat the goal of creating healthy communities. Acting on our own
interests, as well as those of others, can be legitimate as well as constructive.
Myth 6: Public life is about pursuing our selfish interests.
Limiting Myth: Selfishness--pursuing one's own immediate gain--is inevitably what brings us to public life. We figure out our own self-interest and fight for it in public life.
Empowering Insight: Selfishness can defeat our own interests.
As individuals, we come to understand and fulfill our self-interests fully
only when we interact with others.
Myth 7: Power is a dirty word.
Limiting Myth: Power is evil. it is corrupting. It is used by a few power holders to block change benefiting others.
Empowering Insight: We cannot realize our values or goals without
power. Power is the capacity to act publicly and effectively, to bring
about positive change, to build hope.
Myth 8: There is only so much power to go around.
Limiting Myth: Since there is only so much of it to go around, the more power you have the less there is for me.
Empowering Insight: Relational power expands possibilities for
many people at once. The more you use it, the more there is.
Myth 9: Power is a one-way force.
Limiting Myth: Power is a one-way force over someone. It means you're in control and can get others to do what you want.
Empowering Insight: Power always exists in relationships, going
both ways. In relationships, the actions of each affect the other, so no
one is ever completely powerless.
Myth 10: Power is about today's victories.
Limiting Myth: Power is measured by the victories you achieve now.
Empowering Insight: Power is more than today's visible results.
You can reach your short-term goals and still have lost power. Wielding
power relationally builds future power.
Pragmatic Reason to Support the Service Learning Concept
Today's executives realize that in order to increase productivity and
improve quality--maybe even to survive--they need:
Lapp, Francis Moore, and Paul Martin DuBois, The Quickening of America: Rebuilding Our Nation, Remaking Our Lives. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1994.
A discussion of the Service-Learning concept was followed by selection of groups. Groups were arranged during class time based on time availability. It was necessary to have fall back sites in the event a student was never available to attend during home base time.
Service-Learning at GWCC is always voluntary. The instructors have an alternative assignment ready for students who do not wish to participate. In the CLOUT program, however, students are highly encouraged to participate since the assignments and the site are carefully selected to enhance the concept of CLOUT--the power of language. All CLOUT students have chosen the Service-Learning option. The few students who were interested in taking part in the project, but who (for various reasons) were unable to attend a site were allowed to participate by working with their group to find a task which would benefit the group.
Their task was to develop an intervention strategy designed to teach
middle school age children that there is power in learning communication
skills and thus to encourage them to stay in school. The students were
told that the project would consist of developing of a strategy and carrying
out this plan at the middle school site over the course of several visits.
About four weeks were allotted for planning time and about five weeks were
allotted for site visit time. Although some planning time was built into
the in-class schedule (as part of the small group communication component
in COM), students were expected to hold additional meetings outside of
class. Students were also expected to attend the site during out of class
time. They went to the site on numerous occasions (approximately 8-10)
to present their plan.
Students chose a topic which emerged from their experience, and numerous major assignments from the three classes were designed around this topic. Over 55% of the course grade in COM 100, 25% of the grade in ENG 101, and 20% of the grade in CRE 101 was integrated and tied into the Service-Learning experience.
Emerging issues were identified by individual students. Instructors
spent a session modeling identification of possible emerging issues by
using a parallel, and hypothetical, Service-Learning experience. Instructors
and students identified some possible issues emerging from experience in
a nursing home; issues such as elder abuse, euthanasia, and pharmacology
therapy were identified as issues which might emerge from this experience.
Students then used this discussion to model an approach to identifying
an emerging issue in the CLOUT Service-Learning project. Instructors did
not give students any help in identifying the issues which might emerge
from the Service-Learning experience in CLOUT. Students identified many
interesting issues such as teenage pregnancy, disciplinary practices, minimum
GPA requirements for athletes, the need for education, and gang membership.
Based on these issues, they worked on several major course assignments.
COM 100 Assignments
The CLOUT instructors used the same assignments that are required in
stand alone courses; the one difference was that the topic emerged from
Major Service-Learning Report
Each group was responsible for two major projects. The Service-Learning
Group Report (10% of the course grade) was submitted at the end of the
service-learning experience. Students received a group grade on this assignment.
Table Three displays the report format.
Major Group Project Presentation
Students also prepared and delivered a 20 minute Group Project Presentation
in which the group described their experiences to the audience. Audience
members included college administrators and the Service-Learning coordinators
as well as the instructors and classmates. The presentation received a
group grade and was worth 10% of the course grade.
The service-learning report will be written in lieu of the research
paper identified on the syllabus. All other expectations apply. This report
will be the primary content of your group presentation. The report will
include the title page and the following headings:
Explain the course and the service-learning concept.
Describe the individuals in your group. You may describe the background,
assets, experience, etc. of each individual.
Describe the institution in which you fulfilled your service-learning.
After some demographic information (name, location, type of institution,
etc.) you may describe the administration and staff. Include a description
of the subjects (the children with whom you worked).
Explain the plan that your group developed for the service-learning
Describe the organization of your project. This will include several subheadings:
Planning: the settings in which you planned your project
Organization: the meetings you had with administrators, teachers, etc.
Delivery: the experiences you had when you delivered your plan.
Describe any problems encountered as they apply to individual members
(work schedule problems, baby-sitting problems, etc.)
Describe any positive and negative results from your experience.
Address any recommendations you may have for the school in terms of
using this site for future service-learning experiences similar to yours.
Include any handouts provided or supplementary materials used in delivery.
Agenda and Minutes
Small group meetings were held both during class time and out of class.
Each group turned in weekly agendas and minutes of group meetings. Students
received a group grade on these assignments, and the grade was entered
into an In-Class Project category worth 20% of the course.
Each individual turned in weekly reflections which focused on the interpersonal
interactions within the group and on group dynamics. Students were graded
individually on these reflections, and the grades comprised 10% of the
Individual students prepared and delivered a 6-7 minute information
speech. The topic was related to the issue which emerged from the Service-Learning
Project. Students received an individual grade worth 15% of the course
grade. Because this speech was given midway through the semester, students
were allowed to change or modify their emerging issue after the information
speech as desired.
Individual students prepared and delivered a 6-7 minute persuasion speech.
The grade was worth 20% of the course grade. The topic was related to the
issue which emerged from the Service-Learning Project. This same issue
was used in the ENG 101 argument paper and in the CRE 101 reading project.
ENG 101 Assignments
Students wrote a 500 word in-class essay which reflected on the Service-Learning
project. This essay was worth 10% of the grade.
Students wrote a draft (worth 5%) and a revised argument paper of 1,000
words (worth 10%) which dealt with the issue that emerged from the Service-Learning
Project. The same issue was used in the COM 100 persuasion speech and in
the CRE 101 reading project.
CRE 101 Assignments
The CRE 101 reading project was worth 20% of the grade. Students analyzed
and evaluated a number of essays bout the issue which emerged from the
Service-Learning project. The same issue was used in the COM 100 persuasion
speech and in the ENG 101 argument paper.
EXAMPLE OF A STUDENT EXPERIENCE
If we were to follow a hypothetical student through CLOUT, we could see how the integration of assignments works. Along with various other course related concepts, Mary, our student, would spend the first weeks of the semester studying interpersonal communication and small group theory. Introduction to the Service-Learning concept would begin about three weeks into the semester and she would be put into a small group based on the days and times of her availability. The group would begin the planning stage; in Mary's group it was decided that they would cover several areas with the children: the financial costs of adulthood, the effects of gang involvement, and the problems generated by teenage pregnancy. The group then began development of the delivery strategies to be used.
Because this was a complex problem, the group met numerous times, sometimes in class, sometimes out of class. They developed agendas prior to each meeting and kept minutes (In Mary's group a classmate named Bill took over the role of recorder). After the first two meetings, it became apparent to the group that a classmate named Sue was emerging as a leader.
Mary and all of her group members received the same grade on the agendas and minutes submitted by Bill. She also turned in individually written weekly reflections discussing the group in terms of membership roles, interpersonal communication, process developed, and comfort level of and in the group. These weekly reflections were due for the remainder of the semester.
On the first visit to the site, Mary, another group member, and the CLOUT instructors met with the middle school teachers and administrators. That was the last time that the CLOUT instructors accompanied the students to the school (although instructors and administrators from the two schools did have periodic telephone conversations).
On the first visit with the children during homebase time, the CLOUT students asked the children to write a paragraph on what they think of school. Since the same question was asked on the last visit, CLOUT students were able to measure attitude change. On the second visit, CLOUT students handed the children play money equal to a month of wages at slightly over minimum wage. These pupils were asked to identify things they needed to purchase as a single adult. The children were required to "pay" appropriately for rent, food, transportation, etc. When essentials were paid for, there was no money left. CLOUT students explained that that's the kind of money they would make as a high school drop out. They then discussed financial reasons why they themselves were in college.
Subsequent visits covered problems young people can get into today which will hinder goal attainment. Mary had been a teenage single mother, and she talked about the responsibilities involved and the effects on her life. Each CLOUT student discussed a different reason for his/her personal decision to go back to school. The CLOUT students visited the class twice a week for about 6 weeks utilizing various other strategies. On the second to the last visit they asked the students to write another paragraph on what they thought of school. On the last visit our students brought donuts or gave the children a party.
CLOUT students designed their own implementation strategies. CLOUT instructors were present to discuss problems when asked, but we did not offer suggestions for implementation. Middle school instructors were there during classroom visits to help when needed, but they allowed our students autonomy in their classroom. CLOUT students did this entire project during the 20 minute homebase period. This required that they be highly organized and prepared before entering the homebase classroom each day.
The CLOUT students documented the strategies used and the results. They learned how to modify strategies as needed. They experienced the need to resolve group differences in implementation. They also took part in the related CLOUT assignments.
The first major related assignment, the delivery of an information speech, occurred 7 weeks into the semester. Mary, whose topic was teenage pregnancy, explained the components of sex education in the schools. She utilized various concepts studied in the reading class to gather information from sources for her speech. After delivering the information speech, students were allowed to change their topic if they wished. Mary, along with most of her classmates, chose to continue working on the topic chosen for the information speech.
On the ninth week, students wrote an in class reflective essay for the English course. The topic was their Service-Learning experience to date. Mary discussed her initial fear that she would not have enough time to do the Service-Learning project and her current sense of pride and accomplishment in helping these children. She also addressed her frustrations and explained ways in which she might handle them. The reading project was due at the end of the 12th week. Mary and her classmates had evaluated six arguments, three in favor and three against an issue. On the 13th week of the semester, students gave a persuasion speech. Mary argued that condoms should be distributed in high school and in middle school. She identified three reasons for that stand. She supported her argument by referring to the articles she had been analyzing and evaluating as part of her reading project.
The final draft of their argument essay was submitted by each individual
in the 15th week of the semester. Mary's paper further developed the argument
introduced in her persuasion speech. Additionally, she identified and refuted
opposing views. Also in the 15th week, the student groups gave their small
group presentation of the Service-Learning experience (taking about 20-30
minutes per group). The audience consisted of the rest of the class and
administrators from the college. They also submitted the small group written
Evaluation of the Program
Because CLOUT students are of a high risk population, attrition is high (approximately 40%). Of the 60% of the students finishing CLOUT, performance at the end of the semester is equal in some areas to that of traditional students in individual courses. In areas requiring critical thinking and analysis, performance far surpassed that of traditional students.
Students expressed a strong loyalty to one another and to the instructors. They were proud of their accomplishments and knew that they succeeded in a very difficult program.
Students, instructors, and administrators have all expressed the same sentiment: Service-Learning can (and should) be used as a tool to reinforce the classroom learning, not just as a vehicle upon which to reflect. Instructors are currently working on objective assessment measures to demonstrate that the use of Service-Learning in CLOUT accomplishes this goal.
Subjective assessment measures, however, abound. The middle school has been very positive about the benefits of the service provided by CLOUT students. Starting with one pilot homebase in the fall of 1995, the concept expanded to cover two homebase classrooms in the spring of 1996. Now other instructors are asking for CLOUT students in their classroom, and the number of homebase classrooms able to be currently served is limited only by the enrollment in CLOUT. The middle school children enjoyed the CLOUT students. They anticipated the visits and looked forward to them. The evaluations demonstrated that they were influenced by the experience. Two in particular stand out: one student wrote that he had planned to drop out of school, but now he thinks he will stay in school so that he can get a better job later. Another student wrote that she had been thinking of getting pregnant, but now thought it would not be a good idea.
The administrators at GWCC have been very positive about the outcomes of using service as the integration point in CLOUT. For example, after hearing the Service-Learning Project Presentations, both the Dean of Instruction and the Associate Dean of Instruction told the CLOUT students that not only have they helped the children to learn, but they have themselves learned tremendously as individuals. The Dean has told CLOUT faculty that the concept represents an ideal learning situation.
As CLOUT faculty members, we are very positive about the outcomes. Although a time consuming and energy draining project, we have found that the complex and dynamic structure of the Service-Learning/Integrated Learning Community link results in student growth beyond that originally anticipated. Additionally, we ourselves grew as we saw a new (and originally very scary) approach succeed beyond that originally anticipated.
End of the semester evaluations reflected the value of the Service-Learning experience to the students. Students wrote that the service reinforced learning. One wrote: "We had to participate in a small group project. We had to have meetings. The group had a goal...this project helped...with in-class speeches and writings...I am usually very shy and do not like to speak. This project has helped me feel more comfortable about speaking in front of a group." Another wrote: "It helped me get over some of my shyness, and feel more comfortable in speaking to large groups." Students said that at first they thought that using Service-Learning as the focus for concept integration would be confusing, but that now they can se that it had the opposite effect, that it made the course fit together.
Students wrote that Service-Learning gave them personal satisfaction as well. One wrote: "A lot of the information that I have obtained this past year...(will) help me in my personal and educational career and I feel more confident than I have ever felt before. Basically, there is nothing that I can not do or accomplish." Another said "I...got the satisfaction of helping a child in life."
Students also wrote that Service-Learning was a valuable resource to
the community. One wrote: "We had a huge impact on the students and
felt very confident that we got across to them..." Another said: "Some
of the things we...had to discuss (included) teen pregnancy, drugs, and
gangs. By dealing with these everyday problems the youth, the parents of
tomorrow, (will) have better ways of surviving in this world."
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