Students present Engaged Learning projects at symposium

Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress talks with a student at the Engaged Learning fall symposium in Hughes-Trigg Friday. (ELLEN SMITH / The Daily Campus)

SMU’s Engaged Learning fall symposium attracted students, parents and staff to the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum last Friday to witness the students’ achievements with the program.

“The projects are always very exciting,” said Kathleen Tibbetts, SMU Office of Public Affairs. “The program is still so young but it has produced so many exciting presentations and they seem to get better every year.”

Presentations included graduate and undergraduate students from the University Honors Program, Richter Fellows, the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and the Engaged Learning center.

The Engaged Learning program is taking knowledge to a different level. Students are exposed to a different classroom, the world. They are then forced to take what they learned in the classroom and use it to develop their research while at the same time learning from this new environment. The program is focused to make better-rounded students.

Miller Walker, a senior French major, said the program helped him experience being a teacher to underprivileged children and helped him prepare for his future as a professor. He was able to show how the students’ self-esteem improved after just six weeks of learning French.

Jordan Fields, a senior communications major, said Engaged Learning helped her get hands on experience developing the Spanish Club communications strategy. It not only developed the club and helped them triple their membership but also created a solid approach that can be used by future students in the club.

An Phan, a senior communications and Spanish major, said the experience with Engaged Learning really opened her eyes to the Spanish culture. She was able to analyze immigration problems in Spain and show overlaps with those same problems in the United States.

The program was established in 2011 with the goal to connect students with mentoring staff and to engage in an out-of-the-classroom experience.

Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom was chosen as SMU’s quality enhancement plan for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaccreditation.

The program’s mission statement is to provide an avenue for students to expand their SMU experience through “capstone-level learning beyond the classroom” in the student’s areas of interest in local and global communities.

Engaged Learning gives students the opportunity to learn and apply the skills they learn in the classroom outside and expand their knowledge.

“It’s a very exciting program and I hope more students will take advantage of it in the future,” Tibbets said.

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