Your Assignment on Empathy: How Service Learning Serves Communities.

When teaching important topics like sexual violence prevention, many of the organizations we interact with seek outside groups to teach sexual violence prevention techniques like risk reduction and bystander programs to those within. But this traditional process isn’t the only method to sexual violence education. In a recent paper, Unlikely Allies in Preventing Sexual Misconduct: Student Led Prevention Efforts in a Technical Communication Classroom, Dr. Edenfield et al., (2021) shared the results of their research of a new technical writing-based Service Learning program which allows recruits to gain important skills, while exchanging needed creativity. This collaborative process allows recruits, specialists, and learners to reinforce each other’s learning, and promotes more diversity in sexual violence prevention training and teachers. 

The University of Utah offer a technical writing class in preventing sexual violence, where recruits are able to work with prevention specialists to produce programming. As opposed to traditional outsider education groups, Service Learning unites specialists, community stakeholders, and leaders to produce learning materials for those not involved through technical communication. This allows Service Learning to address the different learning needs of each community to promote diversity, while allowing students to contribute ideas of their own. Much of the current education is targeted towards college-aged people with a limited number of sexual violence subjects, but service learning can allow recruits, leaders, and specialists to address different communities directly and creatively. The researchers polled the current fears of recruiting students, which focus on the logistics of training students and seeing their work as credible. However, the researchers stated that these logistics can be overcome as more students learn professional processes through exposure and enact change through creativity, collaboration, and education.

Service learning experiences are collaborative efforts between leaders, specialists, and recruits that teach topics through a combination of instruction and community action, allowing recruits to enact change with their learning. This is achieved through a process of demonstration and emulation that prepares recruits for enacting community change. The researchers cite their purpose as “activist[s] in nature” and state that “technical instructors should not only seek to describe the work we engage in with our community allies, but rather we should also seek partnerships that result in action and critiques of power.” Since Service Learning isn’t limited to just humanities students, the researchers involved hope that these technical communication methods are used in a range of different places that may not be addressed by traditional outsider groups.


Unlikely Allies in Preventing Sexual Misconduct: Student Led Prevention Efforts in a Technical Communication Classroom, by Avery Edenfield, Hailey Judd, Emmalee Fishburn, & Felicia Gallegos

Viewpoint Written by Kimberly Myung, University of California Davis (UC Davis)

Edited by Jennifer Tso, University of California Davis (UC Davis)

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