Faculty Spotlight, March 2013
Associate Professor Todd Migliaccio considers service to be a beneficial component of his students’ learning. When hired by the Sociology department in 2002, Migliaccio realized that Sociology 169: The Changing American Family (SOC 169) was much more interactional than the other courses he taught. He felt that it was important for his students to see that interaction within the community, and decided to teach SOC 169 with a Service Learning component. This course gives students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to what they see and do in the community. The SOC 169 Service Learning Lunch Buddy program has evidence that children in the program miss less school, improve their grades, and are more attentive in class. In turn, SOC 169 student learning outcomes include better understanding of diversity and life from the American family perspective.
Though he wasn’t offered Service Learning classes during his own education, Migliaccio believes that had he been able to experience this type of learning, he would have figured out what he wanted to do earlier. He theorizes that Service Learning helps students develop a perspective on their community while connecting them to their University saying, “[For] students who may feel marginalized or disenfranchised from the school, a Service Learning component may connect them better because they have a sense of purpose, [get to] work with other students and [have] better relationships with [their] teachers.”
Migliaccio is very involved in the campus community. He was recently appointed the Chair of Academic Policies in the Faculty Senate and also facilitates Community Partner focus groups. In 2011, he created an assessment for Community Engagement Center to assess the effectiveness of Service Learning. Surveys were given to students, faculty, and community partners to test their knowledge and perspective of Service Learning. In addition, students wrote an essay that would be used to compare their learning and engagement to students that did not take Service Learning courses. The results of the assessment show that Service Learning has a positive effect on student learning. Migliaccio says that doing the assessment also changed his perceptions to see the Community Partners as co-educators teaching his students about related aspects of the class and not just overseers of the project.
As a professor, Migliaccio has a personal need to be involved in the same community in which he asks his students to get involved. In 2012, the Faculty Senate presented him with the Outstanding Community Service Award. Although most of his qualifications for the award fell under Service Learning, Migliaccio makes sure that he has time to volunteer and get out into the community. Twice a year, he gives a presentation to volunteers at domestic violence shelters, and in partnership with Associate Professor and Child Development Graduate Chair, Juliana Raskauskas, he has created a certificate program in the College of Continuing Education that aims to educate teachers on bullying and how to become bullying education experts in their own schools.
Migliaccio has many goals for Service Learning. Because he only averages about 20 students per section of SOC 169, the class is only offered in the fall. Migliaccio, however, would like to attract more students so that he can teach it twice a year. He would also like to develop more structure and implement different teaching and learning styles so that students can continue to benefit. Departmentally, he would like Sociology to offer more service-oriented types of classes for students. Finally, on the University side, Miggliaccio said “I would love to see Service Learning as one of the graduation requirements in this University. It has been shown to benefit minority, underprivileged, and underrepresented students. Why wouldn’t we expand that?”
Contributed by M. Hardy
Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.
last updated: 5/28/2013