Message from UH Hilo Chancellor Donald O. Straney
Chamber Connection Newsletter
Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce
Applied learning activities impact our local community
Applied learning is an integral component of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s strategic plan. The university’s Office of Applied Learning Experiences (ALEX) is dedicated to creating more applied learning opportunities to engage students in real world situations requiring them to put into action the knowledge and skills they are developing through academic coursework.
Applied learning can take many forms including community-based projects, service learning, research, internships, and practica. The ALEX program recently awarded the 2013 Applied Learning Experiences Excellence in Teaching Award to five members of the UH Hilo faculty. These five individuals stood out from the rest in how they develop and deliver applied learning experiences for their students.
Norman Arancon, assistant professor of horticulture, incorporates research activity into many of his courses. Some research conducted by students forms the basis for more detailed experiments that are eventually published in international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, students in his sustainable agriculture class do service activities that identify community needs and then make use of the knowledge and skills learned in the class; students further their understanding of the course content while enhancing their sense of personal value and civic responsibility.
Celia Bardwell-Jones, assistant professor of philosophy, helps her students develop their research and critical thinking skills through their participation in an individual social action project, such as reading to second graders, volunteering in a domestic violence shelter or a Native Hawaiian service event. Research questions might include: Is Native Hawaiian philosophy, American philosophy? How does tourism affect the identity of Hilo as a municipality?
Michael Marshall, professor of art, has organized a visiting artist program where students work closely with the artists in producing a series of prints in the printmaking lab. He has initiated a collaboration with a nearby charter school to digitally produce the boxes to house the collaborative print series. He also received a grant to launch the Summer Art Institute this year; professional artists will come to Hilo to work with students in their specialized areas.
Harald Barkhoff, associate professor of kinesiology and exercise sciences, designs his courses with hands-on learning that has a service component. For example, he teaches students how to not only appropriately interact with special needs students, but how to modify physical education programs to meet the needs of students with disabilities. During the semester, his students meet ten times with students with disabilities from Waiakea High School in the UH Hilo gym and/or Student Life Center pool utilizing an individualized education program that each UH Hilo student has designed to meet the special needs of the student they are working with.
Dawna Coutant, associate professor of psychology, developed a course on the psychology of sustainability where students work with a client on a real world project related to sustainable living in Hawai‘i. The goal for students is to present a workable solution to a current problem in the local community that needs improvement. Feedback from clients has been very positive, and in several cases the student recommendations have resulted in changes in policies and practices of the client organization.
A critical element of applied learning experiences is the application of classroom theories and principles in a real-world environment. For information about engaging students in applied learning activities, contact Tom DeWitt, director of Applied Learning Experiences, phone 808.987.6551or email tsdewitt (at) hawaii.edu.
For more news from the Office of the Chancellor, visit my blog.