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2011.09.26 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Sept. 28 Event Pairs Students, Nebraska Humane Society

Omaha - University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Service Learning Academy will bring together approximately 13 UNO Psychology students and five students from Blackburn Alternative Program to create a P-16 service learning project that will allow students to use conditioning to shape the behavior of dogs at the Nebraska Humane Society.

During the month of September, Rosemary Strasser’s learning laboratory students interacted with Cathy Nelson’s Blackburn students to develop clicker training strategies for dogs at the Nebraska Humane Society. The students helped reward the dogs when they showed desirable behaviors as an example of conditioning taught in the classroom. Students also monitored the extinction of behaviors such as barking and jumping and rewarded the development of calm behaviors such as waiting patiently and sitting.

“Students are learning that shaping behavior positively has long term positive outcomes while punishment results in negative side effects,” Nelson said.

The students will come together one last time to work with the dogs at the Nebraska Humane Society at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28. Students will then gather their data on their dog training experience, prepare presentations and discuss final outcomes of the training with each other in October.

This meets specific classroom learning outcomes such as using scientific inquiry, creating graphs, evaluating patterns, and analyzing outcomes, all while meeting a community need at the Nebraska Humane Society.

The Service Learning Academy P-16 Initiative facilitates partnerships between the university and K-12 schools with the purpose of connecting curriculum to community needs through the development of academic service learning experiences.

The Service Learning Academy at UNO and Blackburn Program work in partnership with Building Bright Futures in an effort to improve academic performance, raise graduation rates, increase civic and community responsibility and ensure all students are prepared for post-secondary education.

For more information, contact Lucy Garza Westbrook, UNO Service Learning Academy, 402-554-3055 or lgarza@unomaha.edu; Rosemary Strasser, UNO Psychology Department, 402-554-2705 or rstrasser@unomaha.edu; Cathy Nelson, Blackburn Alternative Program, 402-344-3385, ext. 1079 or cathy.nelson@ops.org; Luanne Nelson, Omaha Public Schools, 402-557-2070 or Luanne.Nelson@ops.org.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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