Dr. Amanda Case receives Purdue Engagement Award

Dr. Amanda Case, Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University’s College of Education, recently received a Purdue Engagement Award for her work as a Service-Learning Fellow. The award recognized Dr. Cases’s Purdue University Service-Learning fellowship-funded work on a service-learning course co-taught with Dr. Christy Wessel-Powell, Assistant Professor of Literacy and Language Education in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. The grant provided funding to develop and implement a course titled, Assessing Literacy Afterschool.

This course resulted from a long-time partnership Dr. Case has with the Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG)  in Detroit, Michigan. DBG is a youth development program that provides comprehensive academic, mentoring, and physical well-being services to young people ages 8-18. One-way DBG provides these comprehensive extracurriculars is by conducting assessments of every student to ensure they are receiving individualized academic guidance.

DBG staff realized, however, that they neither had the bandwidth to keep up to date with all of the assessments, nor did they have access to culturally and developmentally appropriate assessment materials. “DBG staff shared that traditional literacy assessments often involve materials that are not of interest to their students or that can be quite harmful to students’ self-efficacy. This is especially the case for older students who may have literacy challenges because they may be asked to read texts that are obviously for students much younger than them. The gym was looking for a better way to do things so they could get an accurate sense of student literacy by building upon student interests.”

To meet the program needs, Dr. Case and Dr. Wessel-Powell co-designed their service-learning course alongside DBG staff. As part of the course, DBG staff introduced the program and the challenges they face in literacy assessments to Purdue undergraduate and graduate students. The students used this information to design and conduct culturally and developmentally appropriate literacy assessments for students at DBG.

After completing assessments, the Purdue students provided DBG staff with an individualized assessment report for each student they evaluated, with recommended readings based on student interests and literacy levels. Those reading recommendations are predominantly written by authors of color about the experiences of individuals of color to reflect the demographics of DBG students. Service-learning fellows funds were used to purchase copies of the recommended texts both for the students assessed and for the gym so they can ensure students have access to high quality, culturally appropriate reading materials.

Learn more about Dr. Amanda Case: https://www.education.purdue.edu/faculty-profiles/name/amanda-case/

Learn more about Downtown Boxing Gym: https://dbgdetroit.org/

Learn more about the original Service-Learning Fellowship for Purdue-community partnerships: https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/releases/2020/Q4/spring-2021-service-learning-fellowships-awarded-for-purdue-community-partnerships.html

Source: Dr. Amanda Case, amandacase@purdue.edu, (765) 494-9742

Writer: Kathryn Elisabeth Cockerill, kcockeri@purdue.edu