Presentation given at the SoTL Commons: A Conference for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This project examines a year-long Honors First Year Experience course in Animal-Assisted Therapy, a course introducing students to the effects of therapy animals on various populations with various conditions in multiple settings. From Fall 2012 to Spring 2013, students were required to participate in service-learning activities with either the local chapter of Therapy Dogs International or the local therapeutic horseback riding program and to blog about their experiences. For their blogs, students had to describe their experiences, their reactions to the experiences, how the experiences related to the course, and any questions or concerns that arose. Qualitative analyses of students’ blogs were conducted, using a Grounded Theory approach. Results revealed that students could identify the key role therapy animals can play in enhancing rehabilitation and development. Additionally, service-learning augmented the students’ knowledge of, awareness of, and interest in animal-assisted therapy and showed how animals themselves appear to act as crucial learning instruments in certain settings. Session objectives include introducing attendees to service-learning and exploring the lurking implication that animals can enhance learning environments. Attendees will learn how service-learning has the potential to add to all disciplines and will be challenged to think of ways to implement animals into student learning.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/trent_maurer/185/