EDSS 55: Alternative Spring Break-Experiential Education
This course is taught in conjunction with Alternative Spring Break (ASB) at UVM in an effort to
provide more in-depth learning and reflection to the experience of spending spring break doing
community service. As a compliment to the ASB training sessions, our course of study will include
group discussions, complementary readings, written assignments, and projects that will examine
some of the learning opportunities inherent in the Alternative Spring Break experience. Topics
covered will include service-learning philosophy, reflection and reciprocity, civic engagement,
cultural pluralism and identity development, and conflicts in community service.
Participants will receive a letter grade based on the papers and projects assigned, participation in
class discussion, and all other requirements listed below. Two credits will be awarded for
successful completion of all requirements. All papers must be double-spaced and typed. You
must incorporate the weekly reading assignment into each paper you write. If you cannot
fulfill all of the requirements, you may not take this class.
If you have a documented disability and would like to discuss academic accommodations, please
speak to Carrie Williams as soon as possible.
You can contact the instructor at: 656-2060, Carol.Williams@uvm.edu
1. Attend all 9 Class sessions:
a. January 28
b. February 4
c. February 11
d. February 18
e. February 25
f. March 3
g. March 10
------- (Spring Break)
h. March 24
------- (Week Off)
i. April 7
2. Participate on Alternative Spring Break during March, 2004.
3. Complete assignments as detailed below by all deadlines.
Readings, Essay & Project Assignments, Oral Presentation, Reflection Journal, Final
Paper (Detailed assignment descriptions will be provided)
Evaluation: (Please see individual project and paper assignments for specific criteria)
Your final grade will be calculated using the following scale:
Attendance and Participation in Class Meetings: 15%
4 Pre-Trip Papers / Projects: 10% each
Oral Presentation (Public Problem Statement): 10%
Reflection Journal: 10%
Final Paper: 25%
From “Enhancing Student Learning and Development” in Service-Learning in Higher Education
(Jacoby et. al., 1996):
Service-Learning can have a variety of anticipated learning and developmental
outcomes. In the area of learning and cognitive development, students who engage
in service-learning may develop greater complexity in their thinking; ethical
commitments regarding themselves, their lifestyles, and what they know and believe;
movement toward higher levels of moral reasoning; and development and clarity
about their faith and spirituality. Potential outcomes related to psychosocial and
identity development include greater competence and sense of competence;
increased awareness and integration of their emotions; more autonomy and
interdependence; greater awareness of themselves as a racial being and of their own
racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage; greater sense of their place in the U.S. and global
society; increased tolerance and empathy; greater clarity about themselves and their
life purposes; and development and maturity of their values.
What do we hope you will get out of this class?
Reflective Practice – you will learn how to facilitate reflection on service for yourself
and your fellow participants. From that reflection, you will discover a deeper
connection to your service experience.
Application of knowledge – through your service, you will have an opportunity to test
hypotheses and apply knowledge and skills you have learned in the context of a real
Leadership – whether you are an ASB leader or participant, you will hone in on your
leadership potential in a group situation by reflection on group dynamics and the role
you play, as well as facilitating skills and topics you have explored in this class with
your group, if applicable.
Civic Identity – you will gain a greater sense of how your skills and knowledge can
contribute to community initiatives, and you will develop a sense of your own role in
addressing public issues.
Cultural Identity – you will gain a deeper understanding of the formation of your own
cultural identity and learn how individual and social identities contribute to learning and
interaction with others.
Social Justice – you will undertake in-depth examination of the “status quo,” analyze
of the sources of power and the potential of community problem solving to effect
change at the roots of problems.
Values Clarification – you will have an opportunity to further clarify your own ideals
and values in regards to issues and ideas covered during class time.
Refining personal choices and career choices – through active reflection on your
service you will explore the role that this kind of work will play in your future personal
and professional choices.
1 week before class –
PICK UP FIRST READING ASSIGNMENT in office of Student Life, Billings
Read: Service-Learning in Higher Education, Barbara Jacoby, 1996
Chapter 1 – Service-Learning in Today’s Higher Education, p.3-10
Chapter 8 – Intensive Service-Learning Experiences, p.182-185
Due: Informal Reaction – 1-2 paragraphs linking this reading to ASB –
Based on what you have read, what do you hope to get out of this class as a supplement
to your ASB experience? (We will share these in class – they will not be graded)
First Class Session – Introduction
In Class: Introductions
Class introduction exercises?
What is Service-Learning
Goals and Expectations of Class
Read: “Community Service Work”, Robert Coles, 1988
Introduction, Soul of a Citizen, Paul Loeb, 1999
DUE: In an essay of 3-5 pages please explore your reasons for participating in community
service efforts and, specifically, Alternative Spring Break. Please incorporate the reading
assignments and address the following questions:
o Do you see service as an important part of your life (why or why not)? What are your
reasons for signing up for Alternative Spring Break? Do you think those reasons will
change or develop as you embark on this experience? What have you learned about
citizen involvement? And from whom have you learned these things? Have you been
taught that your actions as a citizen matter?
Second Class Session
In Class: Service & Civic Engagement
Civic Engagement Exercise and Discussion
Assignments: Multiculturalism & Diversity
Read: “Conceptualizing Culture and Its Impacts” from Understanding Culture’s Influence on
Behavior, Richard Brislin, 1999
1. Do “Who Am I” Exercise
2. Prooftext / Questions
Please mark at least three sections or sentences from the reading that stand out to you.
Please write two questions that you have for the group after reading these articles.
Third Class Session
In Class: Multiculturalism & Diversity
Reflect on “Who am I” Exercise
Discussion relating cultural identity to service experiences
Review “Filtering People: Understanding and Confronting Our Prejudices,” Jim
Read: “Prejudice and Discrimination” Blumenfeld & Raymond
“Working on Common Cross-Cultural Communication Challenges” DuPraw & Axner
Turn in one of the following options:
OPTION 1 - Self-Reflection Essay: In an essay of 4-6 pages, please reflect upon
your completion of the “Who am I” exercise and your response to the readings over
the last two weeks – Brislin, Blumenfeld & Raymond, DuPraw & Axner, Cole.
OPTION 2 – Creative Life-Map and Guide
Create a “Life-Map” drawing that illustrates your life up until this point and
specifically addresses the concept of cultural development. Include critical
incidents related to your discovery of your race, gender, sexuality, religion,
Write an accompanying “Guide” (3-4 pages) that takes the reader on a trip
through your life-map and adds detail to events, people, and development
along the way.
FOR BOTH: Your essay or guide should address the following questions, and should
include references to the reading (Brislin, Blumenfeld & Raymond, DuPraw & Axner,
How has your experience shaped the person you have become? How has
your racial, social, ethnic, religious, ability, or sexual identity shaped the
beliefs that you hold and the choices you have made in life? What were
the strongest influences on your development (family, community,
institutions)? Explore how you might have been different had any one of
these circumstances been different.
How do you think your experience and your identity will influence your
Alternative Spring Break experience? How will you interact with people?
How will people interact with you? What do you want to keep in mind as
you embark on this trip?
Fourth Class Session
In Class: Cross-Cultural Communication
Cross-Cultural Communication Exercise – small groups discuss one section of the
article each, then report back to the group and share examples.
Discussion relating back to ASB
Assignment: Public Problem Statement
Read: Find 2 articles that address the issue that your Alternative Spring Break Project will
be addressing (homelessness, poverty, disability, etc.). One article may be a website –
others should be from a journal, newspaper, or book (please feel free to ask for assistance
in finding articles). Turn in a works cited with the names of your articles along with the
DUE February 18: Public Problem Statement Oral Presentation:
o Prepare a 5-10 minute oral presentation of your public problem statement.
o Part 1 - Explain the issue that is being addressed by the service agency with whom
you will be working during your ASB trip. Explore current problems, specific ties to
the geographic area, populations served, ways that the agency is tackling this
problem, support structures that make work possible, etc.
o Part 2 - What do you hope to learn about this issue through your experience? Are
there aspects of this issue or the agency’s work that intimidate or confuse you?
Think of a few specific learning goals for your trip and brainstorm on ways you will
achieve them (interviews, reading, hands-on experience, etc.).
Fifth Class Session
In Class: Public Problem Statements
Each Participant will be asked to present their “public problem statement” in a 5 -
minute oral presentation.
Compare / Contrast issues, efforts, etc.
“To Hell with Good Intentions” Ivan Illich, Cross Cultural Learning;
Letter to Summer ASB Participants (to be distributed) and visit the Alternative Summer
Break Website to learn about this trip. (http://www.uvm.edu/~altbreak/ASuBindex.html)
DUE: Write a response to this letter – 1-2 pages of what you might say to the person writing
it. What is your reaction to this letter? How are you going to participate in the community in
which you are going to live for a week? Are there things will you keep in mind as a result of
reading this letter?
Sixth Class Session
In Class: Reflection on Learning
Paired Sharing of Letters
Assignments: Reflection on Learning
Read: “On Being a Good Neighbor” – MLK, Jr.
DUE: Write a letter (1-2 pages) to yourself exploring your thoughts and expectations as you
embark on your ASB trip. What have you learned about yourself over the last month?
What do you hope to get out of this trip? What do you want to learn about the agency with
which you are working? Do you have any concerns or tensions on your mind?
(DO NOT SEND THE LETTER – turn it in to instructor. Mailing it is optional.)
Seventh Class Session
Discuss letter assignment
Discuss upcoming journal and final paper assignment.
DURING THE TRIP: (March) DUE Wednesday, March
- Keep a Critical Incident Journal (at least 4 entries on 4 separate days spread throughout
the trip, 1 page each) – free write and consider some of the following questions:
How does your own personal experience either overlap or differ from people with
whom you are working?
What is inspiring or challenging about the people who work at this agency? What
aspects of their work do you find intriguing?
How will the work you are doing add to the mission of this agency or project?
How do you anticipate (if at all) your life being different back in Burlington upon
your return from ASB?
How is your ASB group working together? Are certain participants’ strengths
Were you prepared for this trip and the reality of your service project? What
might have better prepared you?
Eighth Class Session (week after returning)
In Class: Reflection on Trips
Critical Incident Sharing
Discuss final paper assignment.
READ: Final section, Soul of a Citizen, Paul Loeb, 1999
Final Paper DUE (two weeks later):
Rabbi Hillel asks: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who will I
be?” (and) ... “If not now, when?” Reflect upon your ASB experience in connection with this final
Open the letter you wrote to yourself before you went on your trip.
Revisit your pre-trip papers and your public problem statement.
Write a 5-6 page paper that addresses:
how your expectations compare to your actual trip
what you learned about yourself, your peers, and the issue worked with
highlights and challenges of the trip
your public problem statement – did you learn more? In what ways?
your evaluation of whether ASB should continue working with this site
what could make the UVM ASB experience better
the impact of training sessions on your ASB experience
will this experience change the way you live the rest of your life?
please include connections you make to readings, especially your final assignment
Ninth Class Session (potluck) (2 weeks Later)
In Class: NOW WHAT?
Share prooftexts from Final Papers.
Opportunities Fair – information will be provided on further opportunities for service and
leadership at UVM and in the Burlington Community.
Suggestions from faculty for further improvements:
Lengthen time-span of class and increase to 3 credits in order to fully cover all topics.
More in-depth readings – full books?
o Myles Horton, The Long Haul
o Paul Loeb, Soul of a Citizen
o Chapter from Savage Inequalities or Nickle & Dimed? Maybe one for each trip topic?
Section on Group Dynamics
Journals – begin with critical incident journal, then “reflect on reflections” and add
connections to reading later.
More meetings after the trip for deeper reflection
Assign students the task of creating and facilitating reflections
Connect reflection to other academic work – perhaps co-teach in a department
Concentrate on analysis – to emphasize academic rigor
Looking for better readings on cultural pluralism
Possibly affiliated with ALANA department if cultural pluralism concentration could be
Academic course committee approval pending?
TIME! Who will take charge of the course, how will it be institutionalized?