Feb 05, 2013

Students Learn Through Helping Community

Biology Instructor Creates Synergy between Comprehension and Caring

Associate Professor of Biology Karen Kendall-Fite is one of many educators at Columbia State that finds creative ways for students to learn and comprehend their course materials. For the past few years, she has decided that community service should be a required component of an end-of-the-year class project centered on learning nutrition and cell metabolism. "It makes what you're learning in class more relevant," she says.

So what does collecting food for Meals on Wheels in Maury County have to do with learning about nutrition?

"Each year, we identify a different group in need of food donations, and I heard that Meals on Wheels was experiencing reductions and cutbacks nationwide," said Kendall-Fite. "We wanted to do something in Maury County, so we chose the Meals on Wheels in Columbia. Since they primarily serve senior citizens, our class studied the nutritional needs of folks in that age group and demographic."

Students in Kendall-Fite's Introduction to Biology class then went to work researching what foods were appropriate to collect for this project based on the nutritional and digestive needs of senior citizens, and put together a presentation prior to going out and collecting food items from friends, family, neighbors and community members.

"The students were required to explain to folks donating the food, why they needed specific items, and all-in-all they did a great job comprehending the course material and participating in this community service," added Kendall-Fite.

Last year's beneficiary was the Women's Domestic Shelter in Columbia, and this seems to be a project that will continue to serve the community, as well as help students learn course materials through alternative teaching methods.