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Abstract

Faculty at public comprehensive universities are required to engage in professionally related service to their communities. In contrast to the traditional one-way interaction with university personnel as the service providers, institutions of higher learning can engage in service activities that are mutually beneficial to the community and the university. This paper describes a partnership between a comprehensive university and six middle schools from the rural Appalachian region of Kentucky that can serve as a model for community engagement. The project was designed to enhance middle school student learning in the areas of science and mathematics. Its objectives were accomplished through a three-person team structure requiring the active participation of a middle school teacher, a university science or math professor and a college student. The K-12 teacher provided expertise on pedagogical and curriculum issues, the professor provided support on content and applications, whereas the student played the leading role in the development and application of instructional activities. The middle schools benefited from enhanced student learning, content applications of science, mathematics and technology, and use of inquiry-based pedagogy. The university benefited from professional development opportunities to faculty in the areas of service, scholarship and teaching. There were also several benefits to the participating university students including improved communication, teaching, and team building skills, increased knowledge about both the content and applications of science, mathematics and technology, and support for graduate education through generous stipends.

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