Activities That Have Applications to Settings On and Off Campus
Students must undertake a variety of activities in both on- and off-campus settings in order to successfully construct the necessary components of a complete program for a community partner. Researching existing community programming and resources on a chosen topic, conducting a needs assessment, identifying and interpreting recent scientific research, construction of programming activities appropriate for an identified client and the presentation of a finalized program to community professionals are examples of such activities. Given the need to utilize time and resources in productive ways to successfully complete the program construction, students must also master time management and skills associated with successfully working as a member of a group. Each of these skills is directly translatable to successfully working as a Family Life Educator in their own careers.
Authentic Connections Made with Peers, Faculty and Community
The nature of this course lends itself to meaningful and reflective discussions regarding the process of constructing preventative programming and working as a professional, rather than memorization of course content. It is necessary for students to interact in respectful and productive ways with peers in order to continually meet weekly (and semester-long) goals of completing program construction. In addition, students develop a sense of their own professional identity, shifting the interactions with faculty members from one of unequal power to peer-based interactions. The faculty member, as a guide, also learns about the students’ progress in the role of a new professional. This insight allows for meaningful feedback throughout the course, as well as placing the faculty member as a resource for students when working with new learning moment to moment (Mezirow, 1997) and regarding professional issues.
Finally, students begin to establish networks of community contacts for whom they collaboratively construct programming. Since each team works with a different agency, students are exposed to a number of community resources dealing with a wide variety of topics. Interacting with these agencies allows students to learn a great deal about types of resources available to families in the community and begins to develop a sense of how various organizations work with each other to strengthen the community in general.