Pushing the Boundaries of Student Learning

Sandra Enos, Ph.D., worked in a state prison and child welfare as well as a humorist and governor’s policy aide before entering academia 15 years ago. Her impressive careers in the public and nonprofit sectors inform and inspire the service learning for which she is acclaimed.

Her research focuses on child welfare, crime and justice, teaching social change in higher education, and international service learning. A dynamic teacher, Enos is known for deepening students’ understanding of the world.

Open-ended, provocative, and sometimes painful questions are par for the course when it comes to Sociology of Innovation and Creativity, a course Enos created through her Faculty Innovation Grant.

For the Sociology of Innovation and Creativity’s final assignment, students analyze their lives through the lens of sociological imagination. As Enos explains, “You don’t know who you are until you understand that you are a product of your time, social class, and geography; you’re also influencing these realms by being alive.” A pop-up book, a three-volume flipbook, and a huge fingerprint self-portrait were among students’ creative depictions for this assignment.

Meaningful learning opportunities arise only when we begin to push students, says Enos. Her social enterprise, Brains, Toys, Games, designed to address toy deserts for low-income children, allows Enos to challenge her students with such questions as What could we do by creating brand-new products for low-income communities? What would that look like?

As neither Enos’s in-class queries nor professional dilemmas can be solved with “one right answer,” her use of the Faculty Innovation Grant is helping prepare students for the complexities and ambiguities of the work world.

Comments are off for this post