22 SES 05 B, Interactive Poster Session
Various international organizations have claimed that the 21st-century university should create the conditions to promote a more student-centered learning environment and make use of innovative teaching methods. An example in this regard is stated by the Ministers responsible for Higher Education from those countries involved in shaping the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which is known as the Bucharest Communiqué (2012).
One of the most common methods focused on students' learning is Service-Learning, which is consistent, educationally speaking, with the concept that students learn while acting on the real needs of the environment in order to improve it. A Service-Learning (SL) proposal comprises a combination of learning of academic content and providing training (skills) in order to mobilize them in real contexts (Puig, 2009; Santos Rego, Sotelino, & Lorenzo, 2015).
However, the benefits of Learning-Service may go beyond students and the potential cognitive and social effects instilled in them, since they may also affect professors, the community and the university as a whole, especially if it succeeds in linking three of its unequivocal missions: teaching, research and social responsibility.
However, there are quite a few studies that have been published and which, strictly speaking, have no empirical evidence consistent with this methodology, basing much of their claims, and even conclusions on the experiences (valuable in most cases), of teachers willing to make use of the above-mentioned methodology. And this is how their students' good results are justified, without resorting to a rigorous research design or anything close to it.
Therefore, this study is aimed at simply presenting the design of an experimental research focused on the application of Service-Learning in the context of Higher Education. The objective, first, is to study the relevance of Service-Learning as a framework for innovation and development of the processes of learning in Spanish universities; and second, to evaluate the effectiveness of Service-Learning when it comes to improving social competences and civic skills, along with knowledge, and with all of them related to students' disciplinary content. With both goals in mind, it is proposed to validate a model of institutionalization of the Service-Learning methodology at university level.
The institutionalizing attempts of the SL methodology in the Spanish university system should be based on four pillars:
1. The findings of social research, especially in the international context, which associate SL to students' improved academic performance and higher social capital.
2. The legal and institutional framework which endorses SL in the Spanish university system (Status of University Student, University Strategy 2015, Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education) and obviously in the EHEA.
3. There are increasingly more teachers working with this methodology, often on their own and as a personal initiative, but without any institutional and educational support which would allow us to affirm the sustainability of such initiatives.
4. The benefits derived from the institutionalization of any practice vs. those which do not have such recognition (see Furco, 2007).
In short, if our intention is to affirm the opportunities of Service-Learning in the Spanish university context, the first thing to bear in mind is that an implementation dynamics, as needed, requires a sufficient degree of knowledge regarding the elements and factors to be taken into account.
This work is supported by a research project funded through a competitive call by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, en el marco del Programa Estatal de I+D+i Retos de la Sociedad: “Aprendizaje-Servicio e Innovación en la Universidad. Un programa para la mejora del rendimiento académico y el capital social de los estudiantes" (EDU2013-41687-R)
Furco, A. (2007). Institutionalising service-learning in higher education. En L. McIlrath, & I.M. Labhrainn (eds.) Higher education and civic engagement: international perspectives (pp. 65-82). Aldershot (England): Ashgate. Lambright, K. & Alden, A.F. (2012). Voices from the trenches: faculty perspectives on support for sustaining service learning. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(2), 9-45. Puig, J. M. (coord.) (2009). Aprendizaje Servicio (ApS). Educación y compromiso cívico. Barcelona: Graó. Santos Rego, M.A. & Lorenzo, M. (2007). Universidad y sociedad civil en Galicia. Vigo: Xerais. Santos Rego, M.A., Sotelino, A., & Lorenzo, M. (2015). Aprendizaje-Servicio y misión cívica de la Universidad. Una propuesta de desarrollo. Barcelona: Octaedro.Service-Learning, university, research,institutionalization Tapia, M. (2010). La propuesta pedagógica del aprendizaje-servicio: una perspectiva latinoamericana. Tzhoecoen. Revista Científica, 3(5), 23-43.
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