WE may have noted elsewhere that research as one of the threefold functions of a university seems to operate on its own. And, too, there could be instruction devoid of context, hence is without flesh. Likewise, the community extension function plods on its lonely thumping way to a community eagerly awaiting the kind presence of academe with a dole-out of non-essential goods or services. What defining structure could better bring together meaningfully higher education’s threefold function?
Research and instruction. How may research be in the service of instruction? There are a variety of teaching and learning research-based findings in the web. Studies on learning outcomes of instruction would indicate what may be amiss, classroom-wise. A mere scrutiny of frequently borrowed books by students and checking the kind of assignments given to students based on these books would render a researcher information on the intellectual vigor and experiential dimension of classroom instruction. Include a well-worded questionnaire to students on aspects of their experience arising from these assignments that could yield a wealth of information on how the assignments influenced their thinking. Are the assignments and references related to the topics studied? Do these assignments call for theory application? Was critical thinking demonstrated in student response to the assignments in question? A host of similar questions would render a profile of both the academic rigor and application to contemporary realities that students experience with their mentors.
Research and extension services. In the previous column, we noted the remarks of Dr. Lesley C. Lubos, the Liceo de Cagayan University VP for research, publication and extension, that research provides the scholarly dimension of community extension services. With the five deadly typhoons in the past 10 years that Cagayan de Oro City experienced and more than 20,000 families badly devastated by tropical storms, research on the knowledge, attitude, and behaviors toward climate change of the university’s catchment communities was conducted to appropriately serve these communities. The findings anchored the action plan, formulated collegially with stakeholders. It was important for the college extension teams to understand “the process of empowering and engaging typhoon survivors in the relocated communities serviced by the university,” to better craft, implement, monitor and evaluate the university’s climate change services. A consequent research project dovetailed into the university’s plan utilizing citizen science. A select group of citizens from relocated communities was tasked “to gather information on knowledge, attitude and behavior on climate change among (a given number of) randomly chosen residents of the relocated communities. Results guided the university “to further its advocacy on climate change” by training this group “on raising awareness about causes, occurrences and consequences of changing climate trends especially on their lives.” Another ongoing “climate change” research is about the threat of mosquito-borne diseases. This study aims to determine how prepared the catchment communities are and consequently along with stakeholders, define the action plan based on the findings. Some research byproducts woven into action plans are dissemination of research findings seminars on “the effects of iodized salt and seasalt as control agents for mosquito larvae” relative to the university’s Mosquito Dengue Awareness Program in which “communities are taught how to make an Ovi-trap with the use of iodized and sea salt to prevent and control the birth of mosquito larvae.”
Other research-based extension services addressing current incidents. These include an annual climate change seminar during the celebration of Environment Month in support of the university as an environment-friendly school—a response to the Millennium Sustainable Development Goals. Expertise-based training services on financial literacy and entrepreneurship are by the Business and Accountancy College; on basic healthcare practices of barangay health workers to equip them to act as nurses in their respective barangays and correcting misconceptions about HIV/AIDS as revealed in research findings by the Nursing College; workshop on positive classroom management regarding the handling and processing of the bully and bullied pupils inside the classroom and a “Smart Parenting Seminar” to properly handle this millennium’s young by the Teacher Education College and a community-based dialogue on the death penalty to arrive at a consensus on the university’s stand by political science students and faculty.
Facilitating structures, motivation and incentives. Considering consequences of stark climate change, an Extension Services Manual has been put together. The manual defines the function and responsibilities of the institutional risk reduction program team to “increase the emergency response capacity in the provision of relief and social service assistance.” As emergency outreach, the foreseeable projects of the university will focus “on disaster and calamity preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation of target groups that have been affected in the past.” The manual also includes function and responsibilities of the newly set up university-wide Extension Services Council, the appointment of college extension coordinators, implementation of the Outstanding Students in Extension Service Award (for students demonstrating an extraordinary personal commitment for service resulting in obvious benefits to a community), the holding of an annual Intercollegiate Research and Community Extension Competition (with stipends for the winner’s student organization attached to the distinction). These motivating strategies and incentives, indicated in the manual, attest to the fact that extension services in higher education need not be a poor cousin to instruction and research. Given the university’s community extension action plan drawn from its research findings, the driving force to fully implement this plan is a deep commitment of university constituents to Liceo’s corporate social initiatives as authentic service.