School of Nursing

Service Learning Students

Applied and Service-Learning Community Projects

Applied learning is a pedagogical model that has been used in higher education to promote student learning for numerous years. Depending on the academic discipline, the forms of applied learning differ. In the health professions as well as other academic disciplines in the arts and sciences, applied learning may be understood as students' engagement in practicum, internship, capstone, clinical, residency, or service-learning experiences beyond the classroom. In these applied learning experiences, students synthesize knowledge from nursing sciences, public health, research, psychology, sociology, the arts, and biological sciences to enhance learning, while at the same time influencing the health, education, or quality of life of individuals, families, and communities. UNCW School of Nursing faculty and students are engaged in many applied learning and service-learning projects throughout the academic year. The School of Nursing was one of five recipients of a UNCW Quality Enhancement Plan pilot award which tests standardized assessment tools to measure critical thinking, problem-solving, and community self-efficacy associated with applied and service-learning projects. Dr. Janie Canty-Mitchell is the principal investigator on the QEP project and community health nursing faculty are co-investigators. A sample of applied learning and service learning activities that faculty and students are engaged includes:


UNCW nursing students provide health education through use of puppet shows to local children at the Cape Fear Museum as part of their pediatric community clinical experiences.


UNCW nursing students work with staff to assist with developmental screenings and health education for children enrolled in Health Start in Wilmington.


UNCW nursing students serve as volunteer staff for local health department health promotion and screening events. Recently, students assisted New Hanover County Health Department in a health screening event, which provided free screenings and referral resources for 100 local area residents. Health department staff indicated that they would not have been able to run the event without the help of the UNCW nursing students and faculty participation. Students also participate in Brunswick County events.


Along with students in the Community Health program in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences who served as mentors to support physical activity for obese teen clients of Wilmington Health Access for Teens, UNCW nursing students assisted in the provision of home visits to families to collect assessment data and provide nutritional counseling services.


Students enrolled in the RN-BS program in the School of Nursing are required to complete 45 hours of service learning in a local community health agency and complete a community health implementation project as part of their community health course (NSG 405). Currently, students are working with local health departments in the region (New Hanover, Columbus) to assist with mandated community assessment activities. Students in other counties in the region (Robeson, Onslow, Sampson, Carteret) are currently working with local agencies to identify implements projects, on issues to support HIV prevention, and address childhood obesity.


UNCW nursing students are conducting home visits to identify needs and health resources to families living in subsidized housing as part of a pilot project started in January 2011. Findings from the pilot project will provide information about feasibility of expanding the project for all students enrolled in community health to work with a family for the entire semester.

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