Service-Learning in Biology

Thank you for your interest in service-learning in Biology. ICCE can help you create or deepen your service-learning class. We provide models of other courses, sample syllabi, resources for course construction, reflective analysis tools, and risk management support.

Service-learning activity usually falls into two categories:

TYPE 1) Teaching/tutoring/sharing knowledge from the class.

Example: Students from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts who were enrolled in an introductory Cell and Molecular Biology class participated in after-school programs for K-12 students. They partnered with the Boys and Girls Club, as well as the Science Club for Girls where they served as mentors. Some of the activities they implemented were an immune system computer game, mosaic membrane art, and 3-dimensional DNA models. Overall, the students had positive experiences and reflected this in their required blog posts. As one student summed up, “The ability to integrate what I learn in class to what I teach and vice versa has helped me appreciate the science so much more.” In the three years that the service-learning took place “all partner organizations reported that the service-learners helped support the organizational mission.” 1

TYPE 2) Using information in the class to do something with/for a community organization.

Example: Students in two upper-division biology classes, Medical Microbiology and Cell Biology, at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, participated in a service-learning project at underserved clinics. They worked with AIDS patients, the uninsured, and non-English speakers, helping to fill out forms, schedule appointments, assisting in the pharmacy. The more experienced students shadowed physicians and participated in simple medical procedures. The students were required to keep a blog to reflect on their experiences. Over 90% of the students surveyed felt “the community work benefited the community and they felt a personal responsibility to meet the needs of the community partner.” 2

Begley, G. “Making Connections: Service-Learning in Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology” Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education December 2013.

Larios-Sanz, M., Simmons, A., Bagnall, R., Rosell, R. “Implementation of a Service-learning Module in Medical Microbiology and Cell Biology Classes at an Undergraduate Liberal Arts University.” Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 2011.

Please contact ICCE for more information.