On November 2-4, Beth Samuelson, former faculty advisor and committed partner of Books & Beyond, attended the International Association for Research on Service-learning and Community Engagement’s annual conference, which took place in Chicago this year. There she presented at a poster session, sharing information about Books & Beyond’s evaluation team.
Over the past year, Beth has conducted a case study on the experience of the Evaluation team, focusing on the experiences of participants Caitlin Ryan, Ross Smith, and Eleanor Stevenson. These three students and Beth’s doctoral student, Bita Zakeri, contributed to the case study and the poster she presented at the conference. This case study has allowed Beth to become an expert on an important component of service-learning projects, the Youth Participatory Evaluation team.
Consistent evaluation of the educational benefits of service-learning is important to school administrations and to potential funders. While some schools often place more emphasis on learning that can be tested through standardized tests, Beth says “people learn best by doing and by reflecting.” By applying what they learn through co-curricular and extra-curricular service-learning projects, they can complement their classroom studies and strengthen their confidence in what they know. Beth praises Indiana University for its strong tradition of support for service-learning, creating an environment that allows projects like Books & Beyond to flourish.
Beth considers the evaluation feedback and reflections of exiting members of Books & Beyond to be essential to creating a strong and sustainable project that will last for years to come.