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Academic Programs

Service Learning

The psychology department is committed to providing students with engaging service learning opportunities which deepen the understanding of psychological principles while providing a valuable service to the local community. It is one more way in which we enable our students to take what they have learned in the classroom out into their daily lives.


Abnormal Psychology:Students in Abnormal Psychology will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to work with at risk children...

and adults with differing abilities. One of the sites visited will be MOSAIC which serves those with intellectual disabilities. Real life application of the principles learned in the classroom makes the content alive and relevant.

Child Growth and Development: Students in Child Growth and Development are required to spend one day a week for 8 weeks at the Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3), participating in their after school program...

The community center is located in an impoverished, inner city area of South Bend, and thus high numbers of at risk children are served there. Bethel students must submit journal of reflections on their time at MC3 as well as a formal paper relating relevant course work with the service learning experiences.

Cognitive Psychology:Students from the Cognitive Psychology class spend 8 hours training dogs at The Pet Refuge, a local animal shelter...

Students apply operant and classical conditioning methods in order to teach positive behaviors (sit, stay, down, come, heel, shake) and correct negative behaviors (jumping up, pulling on leash). Exposure and positive reinforcement techniques are used to reduce or eliminate phobic behaviors (fear of storm drains, training collars, strangers) in dogs. The training has the advantage of making the dogs more adoptable and less likely to be returned once in a home. The students benefit from the experience of utilizing a wide range of psychological principles in a setting that avoids many of the ethical limitations of undergraduate students working with human clients.

Testimonials from students

My service learning project was at the Monroe Circle Community Center. Not only was this a great opportunity for me to be around kids, but it really drove home the ideas and concepts that we had been learning in class. I even plan on going back to the community center to volunteer sometime. I had a wonderful experience and had a great chance to meet new people.— Jenna Neely
While serving at the Pet Refuge, I was able to see learning fleshed out in my interactions with the dogs. Being able to have hands-on experience with what you’re learning in the classroom and textbooks is invaluable and irreplaceable.— Charity Lane
Volunteering at MC3 not only removed me from my comfort zone but expanded my knowledge and perception of the South Bend area. God opened my eyes to the hurt and broken that are right in our neighborhood . . . words cannot justify my experience- God was working on a deeper level- in our souls and in our hearts.— Hope Grame
My service learning time was a huge eye opener for me because it showed me that I can apply the things being taught in classes and apply them to the real world where they can be put to good use helping those who significantly need it. Mike Lowe
Even though I'm not an animal person in the slightest, I really enjoyed my experience at the Pet Refuge. The practical application of the material we were learning in Learning and Memory (Cognitive Psychology) helped to cement the concepts and tie them together in my mind. The experience also pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way that is impossible in simple human interactions.— Cassie Castor
While helping at MC3, I was given the opportunity to teach a little boy some tricks to help him memorize his multiplication table. It was awesome to see the "lightbulb" go on after I worked with him. It was more than just an assignment, it was a rewarding opportunity that I will always remember.— Rose Gertz

Testimonials from the Supervisors:

The training that is provided by the Bethel students volunteering at Pet Refuge has been instrumental in making our dogs more adoptable. The skills that the students share with the dogs have opened new horizons for the students while offering a valuable service to our shelter.— Pam
President of Pet Refuge
Partnering with Bethel students provided such a rich ministry experience to our children. The individualized attention and the healthy adult role models that were available during this partnership added a dimension that has previously never been available. Thank you so much!— Melissa
Coordinator of Turning Point All-Stars ministry