SMU’s Engaged Learning Day inspires student projects
Published: Monday, February 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
What do you care about? That's the question the Engaged Learning program asked students at SMU to answer Monday evening.
Students gathered around the flagpole to share their answers on the Engaged Learning board as they enjoyed free candy and T-shirts.
The event was part of Engaged Learning Day, a day designed to raise student awareness of the new program and its opportunities, Susan Kress, the director of Engaged Learning, said.
"Engaged Learning is taking what you're learning in the classroom and putting it in a real world setting and actually doing it," Kress said to a group of students inquiring about the program.
The Engaged Learning program is still fairly new to SMU, sending its first group of students into the field just last year. Meleah Chriss, the director's assistant, said Engaged Learning is a result of SMU's re-accreditation program.
It is designed to give students the opportunity to participate in research, service, internships or activities outside the classroom on topics that students really care about.
"We've had several students already come to our office…and they want to do these crazy-imaginative projects that they just came up with in their head," Chriss said.
During its inaugural year, Engaged Learning provided funding and support for three students to complete their proposed projects.
Lindsay Sockwell, a senior dance performance major, was one of those students. She held a weeklong dance program for orphaned children in Zambia, Africa. Using the skills she gained in her psychology minor, Sockwell said she observed the transformation of the students throughout the trip.
Sockwell said she was planning the project before she heard about the Engaged Learning program, but knew it would be a great fit.
"For me, it was an easy step to get all of the funding and the support that I needed to get my project done instead of having to look outside the university," she said.
To apply for an Engaged Learning grant, students must submit a project proposal with the help of a mentor in their field who will help identify learning outcomes. Applications for this year's program are due March 15.
Kress said this is the time for students to start thinking about their projects and begin the application process.
"They've answered the question what do you care about, and now what are you going to do about it?" Kress said.
SMU sophomore Mike Ren said he has already started planning his project proposal and is excited to participate in Engaged Learning.
"It increases freedom for students to pursue what they want rather than an assigned curriculum," Ren said.
Engaged Learning projects are meant to enhance what students have already learned in the classroom.
Students who are accepted into the program and complete a project will present their work and submit a report that will be published by SMU.