Social Responsibility – Adria Battaglia
Adria Battaglia – Austin Community College
Adria Battaglia is an independent scholar and currently an adjunct at Austin Community College.
Austin Community College has a service learning center in which social responsibility is encouraged in the design and implementation of course objectives. Faculty are encouraged through professional development opportunities to foster intercultural competence, civic responsibility, and community engagement, all components of the broader goal of social responsibility.
I piloted social responsibility in a department core course, Public Speaking. The course level outcomes targeted social responsibility goals by focusing on the components: knowledge of civic responsibility and effective community engagement. The following is the implementation plan:
Students will integrate knowledge from the communication discipline by consistently making accurate and relevant connections with civic responsibility and their own civic participation. Students will tailor communication strategies to effectively express, listen, and adapt to others to establish relationships to further civic action. Throughout the course, students will demonstrate social responsibility (namely, civic responsibility) through the production of reflective artifacts (projects and assignments).
At the beginning of the semester, students will be broken into groups of 5-6. Each group will be assigned a non-profit organization that is in need of additional support designing and implementing communication-related promotional messages (designing and presenting informational messages or persuasive appeals within the San Angelo/ASU communities). The students will spend the semester interacting with one of five non-profit organizations (conducting interviews, observations, research) in order to compose and deliver three specific presentations:
- Informative Presentation (an analysis of target-audiences for the organization, types of messages that will be conducive to each audience)
- Persuasive Presentation (inspirational in nature; focused on appealing to pathos)
- Group Presentation (a final presentation to the organization in which the group synthesizes the informative and persuasive presentations, and culminates with a PowerPoint/handout template speech the organization can then go and use when speaking to various audiences within the community)
At the end of the semester, each student will write a final reflection paper in which they will describe how they demonstrated the core value of the field of communication to their communication consultation for their assigned non-profit, the ways in which they applied communication content knowledge and skills during their course experience, and how this course experience with the community partner made them more aware of their social responsibilities (namely, civic responsibility and/or community engagement) and the ways and/or situations in which they demonstrated these responsibilities. Students will produce both written and oral presentations, and will complete the a social responsibility survey.
My goal is to help students understand that this course is not simply about jumping through the hoops of passing the class, but about what it means to be an engaged citizen. I want students to begin to develop the working knowledge needed to become a more civic-minded advocate able to design and execute appropriately-tailored public messages for whatever it is they chose to pursue in life.
- Classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse. Of particular interest to me is the classroom that contains both dual credit learners (high school age) and nontraditional learners (adult learners). This can present a challenge in that adult learners desire this kind of hands-on, application approach to education, and may not need much direction/hand holding during team-based learning activities that engage in social responsibility objectives. The younger learners may desire this kind of educational experience, but may need a lot more direction/scaffolding. If at all possible, creating scaffolding assignments early and frequently in the course is best. This may also demand more group meetings with the teacher during or outside of class.
- In addition, it is imperative to create clear contracts with the organizations with whom the students work. While most of my student groups were successful, I have had a disappointed organization. Upon reflection and interview, it seems as thought the organization had unrealistic expectations for the students. I would suggest the teacher have stand up meetings with the organization AND students frequently throughout the semester to gauge progress and happiness.
Honestly, these kinds of activities promote what I think John Dewey advocated almost a century ago: experiential learning. It is difficult to cultivate this experience with the culture of education teachers find themselves in when teaching K-12, so it can be a bit of a challenge for college teachers to expect students to embrace something that doesn’t require multiple-choice exams. I learned how difficult but rewarding more team-based/problem-based/project-based assignments are, and how much more rewarding education is for both the students AND the teacher if we surrender some control in the classroom and really listen to the needs of the communities in which we live.