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From Classroom Lessons to Community Service

Students in one Albright College psychology course spent the semester researching topics such as self-esteem, media use and adolescent substance abuse, and then presented information to community groups.


By Kelsey Rudy '16

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Not many college students can say they have presented to an assembly of 800 middle school students.

But Albright College's Natalie Wilson '17, Sara Isgate '16 and Tara Sabotchick '15 can, thanks to a service learning project they completed as part of a psychology class.

In November, the trio spoke to students at Reading's Northeast Middle School about various social media applications, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, and the consequences of cyberbullying. The Albright students spoke to the tweens about making smart choices when posting online.

"I loved presenting and the kids responded really well," said Wilson, a psychology major, who hopes the students appreciated the seriousness of cyberbullying. "You don’t see the damage when you’re hiding behind a screen."

The service learning project was part of "Lifespan Human Development," a psychology course taught by Albright lecturer Meghan Owenz, Ph.D., which covered everything from prenatal development to death.

Students in Owenz's course were split into groups, with each tackling a weighty subject, including self-esteem, media use, adolescent substance abuse, depression and anxiety in emerging adulthood, and stress during pregnancy.

The students then took what they learned in the classroom out into the community, selecting sites to present their projects, which allowed them to interact with the developmental stage of their choice, said Owenz.

"This project allowed the students to learn more in-depth about an issue affecting a particular developmental stage that they were interested in," she said.

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Groups presented throughout fall 2014 at the Albright Early Learning Center, the Albright Counseling Center, Olivet Boys and Girls Clubs and Northeast Middle School.

"Finding an audience was daunting," said Kelsea Guckin '15, a crime and justice major, who wondered if members of the community would want to listen to her speak.

But Owenz wanted her students to realize that they had expertise to share, even at this early stage in their academic careers. "I wanted them to be comfortable speaking to others in the community and presenting themselves in a professional manner," she said

While the thought of a semester-long project sounds daunting, Owenz knew it was a manageable and meaningful part of the course.

"I wanted the students to learn how applicable the material they were learning in class was to the outside world," she said.

To find out more about the presentation at Northeast Middle School, check out coverage from the Reading Eagle and WFMZ.

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