EXPERIENCE UGA Outstanding Process Improvement: Increase Service to Students What is Experience UGA? Experience UGA is a program of the UGA Office of Service-Learning (OSL), in partnership with the College of Education and the Clarke County School District (CCSD), which aims to bring all 13,000 Clarke County students (PreK-12) to UGA every year to experience learning on a university campus. Children who begin kindergarten in a Clarke County school will have at least 13 opportunities to visit the university by the time they graduate. The vision is two-fold: first, the students’ learning will be enhanced through hands-on, curricular-based activities in a university environment; and second, Clarke County students will be exposed to a broad array of academic and career opportunities and come to view post-secondary education as an attainable option for their future. (View this short Experience UGA video - http://youtu.be/P6HXz5g3hFI) Background & Community Need In Athens-Clarke County (home to the University of Georgia), about 36% of the population’s income falls below the poverty line, compared to 17% nationally. The county ranks among the poorest in the state; in fact, it is the poorest county in the nation among those with populations over 100,000. A full 79% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch; all 21 of CCSD’s schools are Title I schools; and the current graduation rate is 69.5%. It is imperative that CCSD students are offered additional experiential learning opportunities that inspire them to consider higher education, despite the challenges of persistent poverty. As the anchor institution in our community, the University of Georgia is committed to finding innovative and ambitious ways to increase access to higher education for all Georgia students, and Experience UGA represents a special commitment to the high-need schools in our backyard. “We are very pleased to continue to find innovative ways for the Clarke County School District and the University of Georgia to offer unique learning opportunities for our students. By the time a student graduates from our district, our goal is that they will h ave seen each college or school at UGA, which will undoubtedly help students prepare and plan for post-‐secondary success.” Dr. Philip Lanoue, Clarke County School District Superintendent The vision for Experience UGA was developed through input from community, university, and school leaders concerned about the lack of access and information on post-secondary options available to Clarke County students. The idea was first formalized in 2011 in a grant application for a federal Promise Neighborhoods project, which explored ways to improve post-secondary access for all Athens-Clarke County children. An annual, academic field trip program to UGA for every student to experience the breadth of academic and career opportunities available on a college campus was one of the recommendations. Though Athens-Clarke County did not receive the grant, the field trip idea continued to percolate. Due to budget cuts, field trips were occurring less frequently in the Clarke County schools, and many students in CCSD rarely had the opportunity to come to UGA’s campus during their K-12 years. A lack of district funds for field trip transportation, and that most trips were organized by individual classroom teachers and not part of a district-wide effort were some of the barriers. It is this unequal access for students across the district that Experience UGA addresses. A recent article in the Washington Post about the importance of field trips to student learning points out that “[w]hen done right, a field trip is an inexpensive but powerful form of experiential learning that can boost academic skills and motivate students to excel— both of which are critical to insuring a student’s long-term academic success.”1 To respond to this need, throughout the 2012-13 academic year, the UGA Office of Service-Learning convened a series of meetings with campus stakeholders to gauge interest and discuss logistics. The response from UGA units interested in hosting field trips was overwhelming. By summer 2013, Claire Coenen (UGA AB ’10) had joined OSL as a part-time intern, charged with getting the program off the ground by Fall 2013. 1 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/27/why-the-much-maligned-field-trip-really- matters/ Experience UGA is administered by faculty and staff in the Office of Service-Learning in partnership with the College of Education’s Office of School Engagement and the Clarke County School District. UGA team member include Dr. Shannon O. Wilder, director of the UGA Office of Service-Learning; Claire Coenen, Experience UGA Coordinator, OSL; Dr. Janna Dresden, director of the College of Education’s Office of School Engagement; and Erica Gilbertson, public service representative in the Office of School Engagement. Program Goals UGA is an incredible educational resource for our local school district, so developing a systematic program that provides opportunities for all students in Clarke County equal exposure to UGA every year to explore postsecondary options is a primary goal of this program. Additional goals of Experience UGA are to— • • • • • "When you're on a field trip, you're having fun but also learning in every single possible way." Charles Dawe, Clarke Middle School 7th grader on the Experience UGA Botanical/UGArden trip Foster a sense of excitement about higher education. Clarke County students feel welcomed and encouraged to consider post-secondary options for their future. Meet the curricular goals of schools and teachers. UGA units work with teachers and administrators to make sure the learning on campus is meaningful and relevant to learning in the classroom. Clarke County teachers and students receive information and activity ideas to prepare them for the trip. After the trip, they receive materials (often created by UGA students in service-learning courses) connecting concepts from the field trip to classroom learning. Provide a fun, interactive learning experience. Clarke County students explore a variety of activities that are engaging and fun, as well as interact with hundreds of college students who serve as role models and mentors. Provide learning and leadership opportunities for UGA students. All field trips provide learning and leadership opportunities for UGA students by connecting to service-learning courses or to student organizations and ambassador programs. Bring together the community and the university. Clarke County students and teachers and UGA students, faculty, and staff have the opportunity to engage and connect, improving the quality of education for all in our community. Program Impact AY 2013-14 was the pilot year of Experience UGA, and a total of 8 grade level trips were held and hosted by a variety of academic and public service units at UGA, resulting in campus visits by over 3,500 CCSD students. In addition, nearly 500 UGA students participated in the development and implementation of field trips. “No factor is more important to an individual's success in life than education, particularly higher education . . . I believe that Experience UGA will change the lives of many of the Clarke County students who come to this campus.” 2013-14 trips included— UGA President Jere Morehead • • • • Pre-K, State Botanical Garden of Georgia: Students learn about the natural world through their senses as they act out the life cycle of a tree, observe insects in nature, and engage in other exploratory activities. Kindergarten, College of Education: Kindergarten students take a walking campus tour led by Early Childhood Education majors and discuss shapes they see in buildings and surroundings, and create artwork of what they saw on their tour. 5th grade, Georgia Museum of Art/School of Music: Students take part in an interactive gallery tour and an art activity, followed by a music rehearsal. 6th grade, J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development: Students participate in teambuilding activities and learn leadership skills. Experience UGA, 2 • • • • 7th grade, UGArden and State Botanical Garden of Georgia: Students learn about both urban agriculture and different ecosystems as they participate in experiential learning at these neighboring locations. 8th grade, Special Collections Library: Students explore Georgia history as they tour the exhibits and view a short documentary at this library. 9th grade, Biological Sciences: Students visit different research facilities on campus and conduct hands-on experiments as they learn about a variety of careers in the Biological Sciences. 10th-12th grade, Forestry/Entomology: Students learn about human/animal interactions while gaining hands-on experience with white-tailed deer and various aquatic life. CCSD teachers surveyed after field trips also had this to say about the program’s impact: "[Students] were able to connect real life applications to their biology studies in a myriad of ways." 9th grade teacher, Clarke Central High School “My 7th graders loved it all and asked when we could go back to visit.” Clarke Middle School Teacher, on the Experience UGA Botanical Garden/UGArden Trip Currently, long-term research and evaluation studies are being developed in conjunction with CCSD to measure the impact of field trips on a variety of factors: 1) attitudes toward college attendance and impact on actual post-secondary attainment rates among CCSD students; and 2) attitudes toward STEM careers. A list of trips being developed for AY 2014-15 is included in the supplemental material, but the impact on CCSD students and teachers is only one part of the story. Participation in this program has brought together every corner of the UGA campus to contribute to the quality of life in our local community by increasing student access to postsecondary education. Not only have units from a diverse range of disciplines worked to create and host field trips, many units are also providing financial resources to supplement trips and make sure the buses continue to roll to UGA’s campus. A typical field trip for a grade level with approximately 1,000 students is $5,000—a low cost compared to the potential impact. Seed funding for Experience UGA was provided by the President’s Venture Fund, Vice President for Research, Vice President for Instruction, Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, Franklin College of Arts and Science, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Education, and the Office of Service-Learning. Additional units have committed resources in AY 2013-14. In addition, the Office of Service-Learning is spearheading fundraising efforts to sustain this program, and a fundraiser hosted in March 2014 at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia was attended by nearly 150 people from the community and raised nearly $10,000 from individual donors for future trips. It is this committed partnership between the university and the local community that is the greatest impact of Experience UGA, as this program strengthens both UGA’s land grant mission and our public schools, and can serve as a model of community engagement for other USG schools around the state. Peggy Bailey, 7th grade science teacher at Clarke Middle School captures this spirit best by saying, “So to know that every student in Clarke County is going to go somewhere on UGA’s campus at every grade, every single year, ties us together as a family and community.” Links to Additional Information: • • • June 2014, Georgia Magazine Experience UGA: Field trip program brings Clarke County kids to campus for a look at what’s beyond high school http://uga.edu/gm/ee/index.php?/single/2014/06/2187/ Experience UGA website – http://experience.uga.edu Experience UGA video - http://youtu.be/P6HXz5g3hFI Experience UGA, 3 2014-‐2015 Proposed Trips Pre-‐K – State Botanical Garden of Georgia Pre-‐K students learn about the natural world through their senses as they act out the life cycle of a tree, observe insects in nature, and engage in other exploratory activities. Kindergarten – College of Education Kindergarten students take a walking tour of campus led by Early Childhood Education majors and discuss shapes they see in buildings and surroundings. Students then draw pictures of what they saw on their tour. 1st Grade – College of Family and Consumer Sciences & The Torrance CenterTM for Creativity and Talent Development, College of Education Half of Clarke County first graders will visit the College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS), while the other half will visit the Torrance CenterTM for Creativity and Talent Development. Students at FACS will learn about healthy eating and make healthy snacks in the FACS food lab, visit the child development lab in the McPhaul Center, and participate in activities led by Human Development and Family Science majors. Students at the Torrance CenterTM will participate in a “Creativity Carnival,” during which they will engage in creative problem-‐ solving activities led by UGA graduate students. 2nd Grade – College of Public Health 2nd grade students participate in a health fair led by UGA public health students and engage in physical activities, learn about nutrition through sampling healthy food, and explore other healthy habits such as hand washing. 3rd Grade – Department of Theater & Film Studies Students attend a performance of an original play incorporating dramatic media written by UGA students specifically for elementary school children, and watch a film to learn about animation techniques and careers. 4th Grade – College of Engineering The College of Engineering will engage 4th graders in building handmade catapults and small structures to learn about engineering principles and STEM careers. 5th Grade – Georgia Museum of Art & Hugh Hodgson School of Music Students will take part in an interactive gallery tour and an art activity at the Georgia Museum of Art. They will then participate in a UGA student music rehearsal at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. 6th Grade – Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication & Office of Student Financial Aid Students tour UGA’s historic North Campus and learn about financial aid available for college through an interactive presentation by UGA students who are Financial Aid Peer Counselors. This will be followed by an opportunity to explore careers in journalism and mass communication with the Grady College. 7th Grade – UGArden & State Botanical Garden of Georgia Students learn about urban farming through composting and bee keeping activities, and participate in vegetable taste tests at the UGArden, UGA’s student-‐led organic garden. Then, they conduct science experiments to explore forest ecosystems as they hike through the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. 8th Grade – Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library Students explore Georgia history as they tour the exhibits and view a short documentary at the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library. 9th Grade – Biological Sciences Students visit over 25 different research facilities and labs on campus as they learn about a variety of careers in science and diverse areas of study in the biological sciences. 10th Grade – Interdisciplinary Arts Trip Visits to the Georgia Museum of Art, UGA Performing Arts Center, and Dance building will allow 10th grade students at Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central High Schools to connect the arts to other academic disciplines. 11th Grade – History Students visit the Law School, School of Public and International Affairs, and other locations on UGA’s North Campus, where they will explore U.S. history and current events and engage with UGA students from the Washington Semester Program. 10th-‐12th Grade – Student Affairs Students become “College Students for a Day” through activities such as touring residence halls, leadership development with UGA student leaders, and discussions with Admissions and Financial Aid representatives. 9th-‐12th Grade – Ramsey Student Center High school students rotate through fitness activities such as group classes, intramural sports, and a high ropes courses and learn leadership and fitness skills. 9th-‐12th Grade – Army and Airforce ROTC JROTC students take part in teambuilding/leadership activities with UGA Army and Air Force ROTC cadets while exploring military careers. 9th-‐12th Grade – Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business Students participate in an “App Day” and use tablets to create software applications and learn about software programming. 11th-‐12th Grade – Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resource & Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Students visit UGA’s Whitehall Forest research facilities and learn about aquaponics, white-‐tailed deer, and insects.
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