Hastings College hosted a Campus Compact of the Great Plains workshop September 25 that focused on retaining students through the high impact practices of service learning and community engagement.
Workshop sessions were led by Dr. Jean Heriot, director of service learning and a professor in the Religion and Sociology departments at Hastings College, and Julie Dierberger, the Paul Sather Distinguished Director of Service Learning Academy at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
“Service learning is an important part of one’s college education, as it teaches students how to help others and often gets them more connected with the community on and off-campus,” Heriot said.
Hastings College included 45 service learning classes in the 2018-19 academic year, with 49 percent of the student body taking at least one service learning class.
Speakers noted that high impact practices have been shown to aid in the retention rates and academic success of students, and they appear to be especially impactful for underrepresented students, including first-generation college attendees, students of color and students from low-income families. The workshop covered current research findings on retention and learning in service learning and community engagement, and presented preliminary data from research at UNO on student retention in service learning courses.
The workshop also covered critical reflection as part of service learning and tools for reflection professors could use in the classroom, as well as best practices in reflection to move into deeper critical thinking.
More than 20 faculty and staff members who attended the workshop were from Hastings College and other schools in the region.
Founded in 2017, Campus Compact for the Great Plains aims to advance the public purposes of colleges and universities in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. Campus Compact for the Great Plains is the only organization in the region that works with public and private, two and four-year institutions on the democratic purposes of higher education.
Hastings College is one of the founding members of the organization.