Service-Learning and Assistant-Teaching at Northeastern

Diamond PortraitNo matter what career path you choose, there are a few skills that are common throughout. By presenting new and exciting research, the students in Dr. Begley’s Honors Biology Inquiries class were able to work on these skills and develop their confidence. Posters depicting recent research topics ranging from stem cells to biomarkers for diseases filled the Curry Ballroom. Nervous, yet excited students presented to faculty, staff and peers on a new research paper that they had found that intrigued them. Although the room was filled by freshmen, they were every bit as prepared and professional as an expert presenting at an academic conference.

These freshmen Honors students were definitely busy outside the classroom. Aside from preparing to present at their poster symposium, they were actively involved in the community. Dr. Begley’s incorporated service-learning, which is a type of hands-on learning where students serve different partners throughout the community in roles that relate to their learning and benefit the partner. By taking the unique service-learning model and applying it to a science class, the students learned skills such as communication and leadership while benefiting the community. Also, since the service related to their coursework, it helped the students learn and review biology concepts covered in the classroom as well. The students served at organizations throughout our community, including the Yawkey Boys and Girls Club, Science Club for Girls, United South End Settlements, and Citizen Schools. The service primarily centered around fun after-school Biology activities with local kids, which encourages them to take an interest in science, learning, and the possibility of college.

Through both service-learning and the poster presentations, the students in “Inquiries in Cell and Molecular Biology” were fortunate enough to be able to apply what they were learning in the classroom directly to the real world. In just their first semester, they were able to get a taste of the experiential learning that Northeastern is all about. Having taken the class the previous year and serving as the Service-Learning Teaching Assistant this year, I was able to see the benefits service-learning and the poster symposium had on the students from two unique perspectives. This course truly taught more than just biology, it taught important life skills.

Brett Diamond, Biology