HIGH POINT, N.C., July 14, 2016 – Dr. Cara Kozma, assistant professor of English at High Point University, was selected as a 2016-2017 Engaged Faculty Scholar by North Carolina Campus Compact.
During the upcoming school year, Kozma will lead a research project on campus-community engagement at HPU and serve as a consultant to another campus in the N.C. Campus Compact network on academic service learning.
“Faculty who have a track-record of successful service learning and community-based scholarship make great ambassadors for engaged teaching and learning,” says Leslie Garvin, executive director of North Carolina Campus Compact. “Our intent is to provide support for Dr. Kozma to further her own projects, while we leverage her expertise and enthusiasm to strengthen the network.”
At HPU, Kozma teaches a variety of service learning courses that connect what students are learning in the classroom with meaningful service to local organizations. One of these is the Community Writing Center she co-directs with Dr. Charmaine Cadeau that engages local children in reading and writing projects. In the spring, Kozma’s students partnered with residents of High Point’s Washington Street neighborhood to produce stories about their lives, which were collected in a book published at the end of the semester. She also offers training and development for other faculty as assistant director of HPU’s service learning program.
As an Engaged Faculty Scholar, Kozma will research the impact of service learning on students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Prior studies have shown that service learning classes often make students more tolerant and less prone to stereotyping, but little research has focused on how socioeconomic backgrounds affect the learning of individual students.
“I am honored to be selected as an Engaged Faculty Scholar,” says Kozma. “This opportunity allows me to pursue a research project that can improve the quality of service learning at HPU. If we can better understand how service learning affects students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, we can design service learning courses that will have the most impact for students on our campus.”
The Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser, Robert G. Culp Jr. director of service learning at HPU, says the experience Kozma has gained from being “on the ground floor” of HPU’s service learning program development will make her “a huge asset to campuses that are just beginning the work toward institutionalization of service learning.”
Dr. Bryan Vescio, professor and chair of HPU’s English department, says that in addition to her teaching, she has published numerous scholarly articles on the topic, has helped expand the number of service learning courses offered at HPU, and has developed procedures to ensure that the courses continue to have an impact on students and the community.
“The project Dr. Kozma has proposed will certainly help to improve the service learning experiences of students on our campus,” says Vescio. “It’s innovative because its focus is different than most existing research in this area. The results should help identify ways of enhancing the ‘learning’ part of service learning on our campus and at other institutions as well.”
North Carolina Campus Compact’s Engaged Faculty Scholars receive a stipend of $1,500, travel reimbursement for consultation visits to the partner institution, and a professional development budget. The scholar’s institution is encouraged to provide a match of cash, course release, or other resources and recognition. The scholars present their projects at the network’s annual PACE Conference and other venues.