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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 27, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta UTHBRIDOI Much U ofL psych students learn: Practical experience can be an excellent teacher Nothing beats learning by practical experience, say several University of Lethbridge students who ought to know! The students, participants m an experimental psychology seminar course, have nothing but praise for the combination of academic classroom learning and volunteer work in community agencies This semester marked the first time the academic volunteer approach to psychology was offered at the U of L Co-ordinated by U of L psychology professors Robert Arms and Roger Barnsley, the seminar Psychology 3000 in the U of L calendar is described as a 'community based' course of studies By the time the course concludes in mid-April, students will have obtained a total of 40 hours in practical social experience All 30 students in the course have combined three hours per week as lay workers (in one of a dozen community agencies) with their regular co'urse assignments of psychology readings, lectures and papers. Barnsley and Arms say both students and agencies seem to have benefited by the arrangements the agencies in receiving volunteer help, the students by broadening their own experience while helping others In fact, the psychologists are so pleased with the success of the course, they plan to utilize the same approach again this fall, if student demand warrants adds Barnsley, "We hope to gradually phase the community based concept into other advanced psychology courses." NO COMPLAINTS Students participating in the community based course had no complaints, other than to wish the actual time spent in community agencies could be longer Several of the students say they plan to continue as volunteers with "their" agency even after the course ends "This is the most interesting course I'm says second yea-- arts and science student Arthur Niven. He spends his volunteer time at Sifton House, a receiving home for provincial wards, working with children aged four months to 18 years. I just spend time with the kids, talking with them, helping with recreation he says "The approach has given me some insight into the kinds of problems such youngsters have I think it's practical experience for anyone planning a career in social work Dave Wilson is a gregarious, bearded education student. He has nothing but praise for the mind expanding experience he's gained as a volunteer at Southland Nursing Home. "I've never taken a course like this before." says Wilson "Universities were conceived to serve the needs of the community, but in most cases become completely divorced from community needs and institutions This psychology course puts you right in the community; you have to get involved with the people when you're a volunteer. "I'd like to take another course like this next adds the student. "I think this approach, where there's some practical application for the theory learned, is great and should be expanded to more courses Wilson said his duties at the home include working with the recreation director and providing companionship for the senior citizens in the home. "My helping function is limited because I'm not at the home he adds. "Sometimes I think I've gotten more out of the placement than the staff or residents at the home." HUMAN CONTACT Laura Froese and Allen Van der Berg spend three hours a week at Dorothy Gooder School, working as teachers' aides. "The placement has been very good for says Miss Froese. "I had never had contact with mentally handicapped children, and had no idea of the educational possibilities open to them. My eyes have been opened to the community's misunder- standing about such children "I feel the placement could have been on an even more frequent weekly agrees Mr Van den Berg. "I'm definitely in favor of the community university link for this kind of a adds Miss Froese. "It's great'" Frank Merkl spends several mornings a week at Sunrise Ranch, teaching the intricacies of bicycle repair to Ranch trainees, in hopes that the young people will eventually be self supporting through such a trade. Mr. Merkl describes the community based psychology course as "a very good approach I'm learning how little we know about the retarded SHOULD BE EXTENDED "More university courses should give students practical experience, the chance to do things in the community rather than learn in an atmosphere, divorced from adds Mr. Merkl who hopes to work in social action groups at the community level once he has completed university. "I certainly think this kind of approach could be extended to other courses." "We've gotten good feedback from the participating says Dr Arms "On the whole, the students in the course have been very conscientious and responsible about their placement they seem to have made a genuine effort to Let er rip student Dave Wilson with Ernie Hawkswood, 99, at shuffleboard at Southland Nursing Home. understand the problems of the people and the agency where they're working and have taken pains to get involved in the agency's programs Dr Arms says he and Dr. Barnsley have done "a lot of legwork" on the course visiting agencies, setting up volunteer schedules to fit each student's timetable, then checking back with the supervisors to see the placement works out but both professors agree the positive results have been well worth the effort. The agencies too, appear to feel the psychology course is a worthwhile venture. William Weadick, principal of Dorothy Gooder School seems to speak tor his colleagues when he says, "The course is definitely a good approach." 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