For a while, society has been claiming for a university model which goes beyond its traditional task of training future professionals, that is, it demands an engaged university with its social community. It must educate responsible and critical citizens, who will work to avoid the injustices and inequalities that exist in the current society. They must search for the common good (Martínez-Martín, 2016).
In this sense, the University Strategy 2015 (MEC, 2010) calls for the modernization of the Spanish universities. This updating must be based on an institutional model that promotes sustainability and social responsibility. Universities, besides teaching and research, which are their classic functions, must attend the so-called “third mission”, that is, reporting to society part of what they receive. Currently, higher education should emphasize the scientific knowledge and the competences that are relevant not only for the labour market, but also for social inclusion and active citizenship (Martínez-Vivot & Folgueiras, 2015). This approach implies that there should be changes in the universities not only in the studies structure or the content of lessons, but also the learning and teaching methodology needs also some innovations, for instance, they should be active and oriented towards performance improvement.
In this framework, university should be conceived as an ethical learning space. To achieve this, teaching methodologies should be rethought. One of this innovative teaching methodologies that are being introduced in higher education is service-learning (Jacoby, 2009, 2013). In Spain, the Conference of Rectors of the Spanish Universities considered service-learning as the most suitable methodology to get social responsibility and a sustainable curriculum (CRUE, 2015).
This methodology allows students to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom and to develop competences based on their active participation in real settings related to community services and social needs. Students immediately can apply the new competences that they have learnt. They are also made aware of increasing social injustices and inequalities nearby. Therefore, it is based on ‘learning by doing’, which is a fundamental principle of modern pedagogy (Santos-Rego, Soletillo & Lorenzo, 2015), and critical pedagogy (Deeley, 2016).
There are experimental evidences which demonstrate the effectiveness of this methodology. Knowledge structures remain longer when the transfer of knowledge and skills to real situations is promoted (Novak, Markey & Allen, 2007; Warren, 2012). As well, significant effects on civic engagement, social skills and diverse personal attributes are evidenced (Yorio & Ye, 2012).
The research aims to know the predisposition existing in the Spanish university faculties and schools in relation to promote and create opportunities to develop service-learning projects.
So, some interviews with deans were developed. Deans have more relevant information on this issue and can provide important data to know the starting point before considering the institutionalization of service-learning in higher education.
This general objective can be summarized in the following specific objectives:
- To know the agreement that the different Spanish Universities have with the so called “third mission”.
- To evaluate the deans' knowledge about service-learning methodology.
- To establish a diagnosis to assess the willingness to introduce the service learning as an active learning methodology in the University environment.
This research belongs to a more extensive national R+D research project (Ref. EDU2013-41687-R) which is related to the creation of a steady institutional programme of service-learning.
CRUE (2015). Institucionalización del Aprendizaje-Servicio como estrategia docente dentro del marco de la Responsabilidad Social Universitaria para la promoción de la Sostenibilidad en la Universidad. Retrieved from: http://www.crue.org/Documentos%20compartidos/Recomendaciones%20y%20criterios%20tecnicos/2.%20APROBADA%20INSTITUCIONALIZACION%20ApS.pdf Deeley, S. J. (2016). El Aprendizaje-Servicio en educación superior. Teoría, práctica y perspectiva crítica. Madrid: Narcea. Jacoby, B. (2009). Civic engagement in today’s higher education. An overview. In B. Jacoby (Ed.), Civic engagement in higher education. Concepts and practices (pp. 5-30). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Jacoby, B. (2013). Democratic dilemmas of teaching service-learning: Curricular strategies for success. Journal of College Student Development,54 (3), 336-338. Martínez-Martín, M. (2016). Responsabilidad social de la universidad en el marco de la sociedad abierta. En M. A. Santos Rego (Ed.), Sociedad del conocimiento. Aprendizaje e innovación en la universidad (pp. 139-153). Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva. Martínez-Vivot, M., & Folgueiras, P. (2015). Evaluación participativa, Aprendizaje-Servicio y universidad. Profesorado. Revista de Currículum y formación de profesorado, 19 (1), 128-143. Ministerio de Educación (2010). Estrategia Universidad 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.uab.cat/doc/DOC_cei_estrategia2015_edicio2010 Novak, J. M., Markey, V., & Allen, M. (2007). Evaluating Cognitive Outcomes of Service Learning in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis. Communication Research Reports, 24 (2), 149-157. Santos-Rego, M. A., Sotelino-Losada, A. & Lorenzo-Moledo, M. (2015) Aprendizaje-servicio y misión cívica de la universidad. Una propuesta de desarrollo. Barcelona: Octaedro. Warren, J. L. (2012). Does service-learning increase student learning? A Meta-analysis. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 18 (2), 56-61. Yorio, P. L., & Ye, F. (2012). A meta-analysis on the effects of service-learning on the social, personal, and cognitive outcomes of learning. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11 (1), 9-27.
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