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2012.09.24 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

Service Learning Project Pairs UNO, Blackburn with Humane Society

Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Service Learning Academy will bring together UNO Psychology students and Blackburn Alternative Program English students to shape behavior of dogs at the Nebraska Humane Society, 8929 Fort St., as part of a P-16 service learning project on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

The students will come together to train the dogs on Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. In the weeks to come, the students will analyze data from their dog-training experience, prepare presentations and discuss final outcomes of the training with each other in October.

Earlier in the month of September Rosemary Strasser’s learning laboratory students at UNO interacted with Jan Machmuller and Cathy Nelson’s Blackburn students to use positive reinforcement strategies for training 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 unwanted 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 project meets specific classroom learning outcomes such as using scientific inquiry, creating graphs, evaluating patterns and analyzing outcomes, all while meeting a community need as part of an academic service learning experience.

The Service Learning Academy P-16 Initiative facilitates partnership 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 Alternative 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, please 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;
Denise Gurss, Nebraska Humane Society, 402.990.4003 or DGurss@nehumanesociety.org;
David Patton, Omaha Public Schools, 402.557.2070 or David.Patton@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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