Schiebler '07, right, speaks on her community research project at "From the
Field: First-Hand Reports of Wesleyan Service-Learning Projects" May 12 in
the Center for Community Partnerships. Rob Rosenthal, center with blue shirt
and tie, is director of the Service-Learning Center.
Students Conduct Local Studies through Service Learning Projects
As part of a Service-Learning project, Lirra
Schiebler ’07 learned that some residents in Middletown's North End spend
about 47 percent of their monthly earnings on heating and electric bills
during the winter season.
Schiebler presented her group's study, "Energy Costs in the North End: The
Rise in Utilities and its Effect on a Low-Income Community" during a meeting
at the Center for Community Partnerships May 12.
“This is a statistic I find shocking,” she says. “Our results show that the
rise in energy bills has not only affected residents, but affected them to a
staggering and dire degree. I hope that local agencies, will be able to use
this data in a persuasive way, garnering support from governmental and other
assistance programs to filter more directly to those who are in need of
Schiebler was one of nine students who made presentations at the public
event, titled "From the Field: First-Hand Reports of Wesleyan
Service-Learning Projects." Rob Rosenthal, professor of sociology and
director of the Service-Learning Center coordinated the event. He is the
instructor for the course, Community Research Seminar, in which small teams
of students carry out research projects submitted by local groups and
Each student presented 10-minute talks, followed by brief opportunities for
questions and answers. Several of the students were part of the course.
Jeff Stein ’08 presented his study, “Defining and mapping conservation
priorities in the Maromas area of Middletown, Connecticut.” He and his
classmates evaluated the unprotected, wildlife-rich, 3,000-acre area known
as the Maromas, in terms of its ecological value, and then ranked its
parcels in terms of their value to the conservation movement.
Advocacy groups can use Stein’s data to apply for grants, fund further
studies, and focus efforts on conserving the area’s top priority parcels.
The Middletown Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and
Instruction approached Stein after the meeting and suggested incorporating
the school’s science classes with the Maromas.
“Considering that most of us had never even heard of Maromas, we were
awestruck that such an incredible resource with such extensive biodiversity
existed so close to campus,” Stein says. “We're all very excited about the
awareness we're raising about the area.”
Julie Bromberg ’06 presented her group’s study, “Disabilities and
School-Based Arrests: Local Connections.”
The study was designed to determine whether the national trend of an
overrepresentation of students with disabilities getting arrested holds true
in Meriden and Middletown. The study involved collecting collecting
statistics from the school districts, police, and juvenile court as well as
conducted interviews with special education teachers, school resource
officers arrested students, and their parents. Bromberg and her
co-investigators found that there were a disproportionately large number of
students with disabilities getting suspended in both Middletown and Meriden.
Twenty-five percent of suspensions in Middletown and 31 percent in Meriden
were special education students, while they only made up about 13 percent of
the student population in these districts.
Other students and their studies include: Kara Schnoes ’07 with
“Implementation of Evidenced-Based Practices at The Connection;” Laura
Ouimette ‘06 with “Why Student Graduate From--or Drop Out of- Upward Bound;”
Julie Kastenbaum ’06 with “Report from the Field,” an Integration of
Clinical Experience and Life Science Learning;” Gretchen Kishbauch ‘07 with
“Predictors of Repeat Child Maltreatment among Families Involved with Child
Protective Services;” Kaneza Schaal ’06 with “Peer Mediation as a Model for
Student Empowerment;” and Craig Thomas ’06 with “Analyzing the North End
Schiebler says the service learning course has brought her closer to the
Middletown community, and also has taught her the importance of finding
solutions to problems on a micro level.
“It’s important to look at these problems close to home before we offer
grandiose solutions to global issues,” she says. “World poverty is clearly
important, but how are we supposed to tackle that beast when its equally
scary step-brother resides next door?”
|By Olivia Bartlett, Wesleyan