SLUSIK - a model based on the promising practices from 5 partner Universities and beyond
This is a service learning module based on experiential learning. It forms a vital part of the University of Limerick’s (UL) many community engagement initiatives and co-operation with Limerick City and County Council (LCCC). Students co-create ‘real world’ projects with the local civil society organisations designed to address local needs, thereby actively participating in sustainable social change.
The LIO Practica is enabled by a shared learning framework designed to enhance the flexibility of core academic configurations to integrate both across disciplines and within curriculum, to connect communities and enterprises in sustainable relationships that deliver mutually reciprocal benefits from the engagement including leading to greater social inclusion of the students but also different groups in the local community. Central to LIO practica is that students achieve the learning outcomes via practical and applied experiential learning (non-formal learning) instead of more traditional classroom based pedagogies.
This collaborative project work enhances problem-solving skills in an interdisciplinary team with a broad range of community partners, as students are exposed to opportunities and interest areas that they may not have previously considered applicable to their knowledge. A LIO peer mentor who acts as a sounding board further supports them in this learning journey and innovation, answers student queries and offers support. In recognition of the LIO students’ diverse backgrounds and the need to ease their integration into a new learning environment, to identify potential vulnerabilities, promote and facilitate better student communication.
Students have opportunities to engage with their peers in other well-being activities, to create an overall positive ‘learning climate’, beginning with a welcome session to introduce students to Limerick City and set the scene for continued positive interactions with local community partners.
Since 2005, the Matej Bel University offers Service Learning as part of its curricula and its lecturers and students are actively involved in campaigns implemented in Banska Bystrica with the goal to raise awareness and interest of people in volunteering and active citizenship.
Since 2013, there has been a qualitative and quantitative development of service-learning at MBU in the framework of „Development of innovative forms of education at MBU“ project, subventioned from European structural aid funds. In the most up-to-date version of the MBU Long-term strategy (2017), the goal to get engaged in the development of communities and the region in order to help resolve local and national problems and to bring an active contribution to the development of a civic society.
Nowadays, MBU is applying the following models of service-learning. In the academic year 2019/2020 more than 25 subjects at MBU include service learning pedagogy. The subjects are part of different study programs on different faculties, mainly: social work, pedagogy, social pedagogy, teacher education in different areas, economy. Since 2013 more than 400 students participated in service-learning projects in cooperation with different community partners (schools, community centers, municipality, non-governmental organizations, houses for social services, community foundation. In 2018, the Fund for Supporting Students’ Service-learning Projects was established at MBU.
For the first time, students have the opportunity to obtain support for their project implementation from university sources. One example is the course “Gamer for the planet” which incorporated service-learning in global education. The aim of the course was to point out the importance of GE in every age and offer inspirations for teaching the global education topics at higher education institutions. The goal was to apply effective teaching methods when introducing topics of global education and realize a service-learning micro-project on one of them.
The Faculty has, since 2011 been nurturing an approach to the development of study programs and curricula that enables the acquisition of part of ECTS credits by encouraging students’ volunteering and their experiential learning by engagement and advocacy in the community, partnering with various civil society organisations and local institutions (e.g. local authorities, schools, museums, hospitals), where the goals and expected learning outcomes of the course are partially or fully achievable.
In the last five to six years, teachers and students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka have developed a wide network of cooperation with various CSOs and public institutions in the city of Rijeka and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County through teaching and research, as well as within various professional engagement projects.
The University in Vienna is Austria’s largest teacher training institution and offers an extensive programme of primary and vocational teacher professional development, both initial as well as in-service.They are experts in training school teachers in a variety of disciplines but particularly those related to arts and other expression orientated fields.
They use and train their students in modern and creative teaching and learning processes using experiential learning and non-formal methodologies as a basis. Service learning is included as a module in several faculties in the university and there is currently a special focus on how service learning can be best equipped for contributing to the modernisation of Europe’s HE system through curriculum based on the innovative service-learning approach to teaching & learning that brings students, academics and community together to jointly develop solutions for challenging issues, product and process innovation, stimulating social entrepreneurship of HE teachers.
For the module “B-6-4 Service Learning: Social engagement in school and university”, students of primary education at the University of Teacher Education (PH Vienna for short) receive 5 ECTS credits. The structure of the module is structured in such a way that there are a total of 3 courses that must be taken at the same time in order to successfully design a project.
- Introduction to service learning
- Accompanying event – project work on service learning In the seminar
“Introduction to Service Learning” student teachers learn all the important information about the module. Cooperation partners (CSOs) also introduce themselves or many are introduced by the lecturer. This gives the students an overview of various CSOs and community-based project proposals that need support. As soon as a group of students has agreed on a project topic with one of the cooperation partners, a clear project concept is agreed as a commitment.
At the end of the course “Introduction to Service Learning”, each group briefly presents their project to the entire course group, the course director and other lecturers at the PH vienna, so that outside people can also share their opinions and questions on the individual projects and the understand better the community impact and the changes in attitudes that the students themselves have experience and what social and civic skills and competencies they have developed through the service learning module.
The University of Granada’s program is based on service-learning and mentoring (Role Models). It involves university students going into schools and acting as role models, peer mentors and peer tutors with other young people. In one case, 40 university students, previously trained and always supervised by those responsible for the program, held 352 mentoring sessions with 20 schoolchildren, 67 coordination sessions with their 13 teacher-tutors and 84 family counselling sessions to their respective families.
The results show statistically significant differences in competencies of university students, as well as improvements in school performance and high levels of teacher tutor satisfaction. This intervention has contributed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of compulsory secondary education and university education. Several recent publications from the research department correspond to these areas of Service-Learning, Mentoring, Tutoring and Peer-learning.
Five years ago, the university also organised the national Spanish conference on Service-Learning and for the last three years been a member of the board of the Spanish Association of Service -Learning.