Posted on March 29, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Kara Blizzard speaks to psychology major Lisa Lundgard about her Community Service Learning placement.

By Kara Blizzard –

When Lisa Lundgard was offered the opportunity to teach students at a local elementary school, she didn’t hesitate to seize it. “I just thought it would be an amazing chance to learn how to teach,” she said.

Lundgard, a psychology major at Augustana, is currently taking a cognitive development course that examines how children develop memory, perception, conceptual thought, and academic skills. The course has an optional Community Service Learning (CSL) component; students can choose between completing a community service project and writing a research paper. For Lundgard, CSL was a natural choice: she enjoys working with children, and she wanted experience in the field of teaching. Lundgard’s project involves teaching a program about emotions to a grade one class at at École Sifton School.

Australian child psychologist Dr. Paula Barrett developed the Fun Friends program as a way to teach children how to deal with emotions like stress, sadness, and fear. A partnership between Augustana and CHAMP (Children’s Health and Mentorship Program) has given Lundgard the opportunity to help teach the course in Camrose.

Lundgard and a partner from her psychology class teach sessions on topics like bravery, feelings, and thoughts. “At first it was a challenge, because we had never taught kids before like this,” she said. “Now we know all of their names and it’s going really well.” Lundgard has noticed improvements in emotional processing in some of the children. During one class, a student expressed sadness at not having anyone to play with at recess. Lundgard asked her to come up with a “green” thought, like asking someone to play a game. “She was able to do it,” said Lundgard, “and we saw in her a realization. She was thinking about it and internalizing that you can think in this other way. I think a program like this is crucial. It can help kids understand their feelings and others’ feelings, and it could in the long run help decrease bullying.”

Lundgard has found many ways to relate her CSL experience to course concepts. “We are learning about cognitive development in class,” she said, “and I’m seeing development in [the children’s] thinking and emotions, and also reading and writing skills.”

In past CSL projects, Lundgard has helped with a Reading Buddies program, volunteered at a daycare, and participated in Cooking up a Story at Charlie Killam school. This semester she is doing research on a potential community garden project.

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