College to to tap 'field experience' in teaching

Apr 25, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Beginning in 2014, students at Central Wyoming College will have a new opportunity to put their education to work outside of the classroom through a co-curricular initiative being developed at the school.

Staff and faculty at CWC say the program should help students make a connection between the concepts they hear about in class and the work they will someday do in society. After they participate in off-campus learning activities, co-curricular students will return to school to reflect on their experiences.

"It is through the action of deliberate reflection that co-curricular learning can take place," student life coordinator Brittany Yeates told the CWC Board of Trustees this month. "Those who are active in the practice ... will reinforce the knowledge and skills learned in their classrooms."

For the past year, Yeates and art professor Nita Kehoe have co-chaired the committee working to develop the school's co-curricular program. The group has defined courses in three areas: cultural appreciation, community engagement and professional experience.

"Culture appreciation (is) going to be achieved through first-person experiences," Kehoe said.

She described several inexpensive, local options for cultural development, like the Fremont County Library's regular screenings of live productions by the New York Metropolitan Opera.

"We thought that would be an excellent opportunity, as well as utilizing the Lander Art Center and the (Robert A. Peck Arts Center) gallery here on campus," Kehoe said.

Yeates suggested that classes could travel to larger cities to experience other cultures as well. Students already take an annual trip to Denver, she said, and that excursion could easily be modified to meet the requirements of the co-curricular initiative. Yeates talked about two potential outings to theaters in the Denver area; she said students could attend the shows then take time to thoughtfully document their observations.

"Students participating for co-curricular credit would be asked (to) critique that experience," Yeates said. "They analyze the experience to develop a deeper meaning and understanding of the experience."

Community engagement likely will take place locally, she said. Students will be asked to identify a need within the Fremont County population and develop a plan to address that need.

"(They'll be) implementing steps toward a solution," Yeates said. "This would be achieved through participating in field experiences."

Kehoe said co-curricular

professional learning will be "hands-on" as well.

"It's out in the workplace experience," she said, though she added that students also could benefit from internships on campus.

For example, Kehoe said people could intern with accounting instructor Willie Noseep, who runs CWC's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site through the Internal Revenue Service to provide free tax help to community members.

"Or it can be embedded within the art program," she said. "Students learn how to present their artwork. They write resumes and learn how to do interviews."

Faculty members will develop specific co-curricular courses in their areas of expertise over the coming year, Kehoe said. The classes will be available beginning in fall 2014.

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