JEP, TIRP numbers up, many receiving credit
Looking at the line of 200 students waiting to sign up for the Joint Educational Project, one might be surprised by the number of students wanting to volunteer â€” until finding out that many of them are getting class credit.
Both JEP and the Teaching for International Relations Program (TIRP) offer volunteer opportunities that give USC students a chance to teach and tutor at local schools. Both programs also give many students the opportunity to earn extra credit in certain classes.
â€śMany students come in for extra credit, especially if their class is perceived to be difficult,â€ť said Tammy Anderson, executive director of JEP.
Though requirements vary, professors often offer extra credit for students who complete a certain number of hours with JEP or TIRP and fulfill certain requirements, sometimes including essays or journal entries.
Steven Lamy, founder of TIRP and professor of the International Relations: Introductory Analysis (IR210) class, offered his students 10 points in assignment credit for participation in TIRP. Students were required to act as â€śteachersâ€ť for high school classes four times a semester, submitting reports on lesson plans and meeting with TIRP staff periodically.
Anderson said some professors mandate JEP in their classes, and, looking at TIRPâ€™s 2010 sign-up list, only five of the 168 students had left the â€ścourse creditâ€ť line blank.
One student, Josue Martinez-Oliva, a junior majoring in international relations, explained that he originally signed up for credit, but the program offered him much more than a better grade.
â€śItâ€™s one of the most interesting, challenging and right down incredible experiences,â€ť he said.
Martinez-Oliva also said that the extra credit was insignificant in the long run.
â€śIf you do your work, the points donâ€™t really make too much of a difference,â€ť he said. â€śTo see that little bright light spark in the kidsâ€™ eyes, that is the reward.â€ť
Anderson said she does not mind that most students sign up to receive course credit because they end up invested in the program for different reasons.
â€śThatâ€™s the initial incentive, but thatâ€™s never bothered me because once theyâ€™re in the program they say they really enjoy it,â€ť she said.
Both JEP and TIRP have seen significant increases in enrollment over the past few years. This year, spots went particularly quickly.
â€śThe sign-ups that usually go on a week were gone the first day,â€ť said Teresa Hudock, director of the Center for Active Learning in International Studies, the organization that manages TIRP. â€ś[The students] felt more enthusiasm from certain professors.â€ť
Lamy said he thinks the reason for the growth in these volunteer programs is because the values of the student body are changing.
â€śThe kind of student that USC is attracting [now] is a kid that is very smart and they can do really well in their classes, but theyâ€™re also proud of who they are as students,â€ť Lamy said.
Lamy said about 80 percent of his students who enroll in TIRP still do the required coursework in addition to being â€śTIRP-ers.â€ť
â€śIn some ways, they realize the best way to learn is to teach someone else,â€ť Lamy said.