20 SES 14, Inclusion and Different Kinds of Learning and Recovery
Volunteering is an important element of modern society (e.g. European Commission, 2015; Longworth, 2003; Nenga, 2012). Volunteering in this sense means “unpaid, voluntary work, which is provided for the benefit of strangers, the environment, society and the local community and is taken individually or as part of an organization or public institution” (Kosewska, 2015, p. 360).
A total of 92 to 94 million adults are involved in volunteering in the EU (GHK, 2010), whereby the level of participation differs significantly across Member States. While less than 10 percent of the population engage in voluntary work in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Lithuania, this figure rises to between 30 and 39 percent in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Germany, and to over 40 percent in Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom (GHK, 2010).
Many areas of public and social life would now hardly be available without volunteers. People volunteer in a diverse range of areas, including active citizenship, employment and social policy, sports, education and training, or the environment (GHK, 2010). Their engagement also extends to different target groups (e.g. care for widows, children, youth, old people, the sick or the homeless (Kosewska, 2015)).
This article focuses on voluntary work for children and young people, since this has been recognised as an informal learning arena and thus has strong relevance for society (Duguid, Mündel & Schugurensky, 2013; Vadeboncoeur, 2006). The voluntary work with children and young people takes place in all the aforementioned areas (e.g. education and training), making this a very heterogeneous learning arena. It has an impact on their skills development and on their acquisition of key qualifications and (inter-)cultural competences (Buschmann et al., 2009).
Volunteering is thus not only beneficial for the beneficiary. People who do voluntary work acquire social and technical competences, serve as multipliers and act as role models for their peers (Duguid, Mündel & Schugurensky, 2013; Gaston & Kruger, 2014; Schnell & Hof, 2012). Through their voluntary work, they also gain further advantages such as “experiences of significance by taking responsibility for people in need; it furthers directedness by providing clear goals, and it is usually connected with becoming a member of a community, thus supporting belonging” (Schnell & Hoof, p. 38). Child and youth voluntary work also serves as an entry point to further volunteering in the future, thus ensuring the next generation of volunteers in many other areas (Vadeboncoeur, 2006).
However, the number of young people doing voluntary work is on the decline in most countries in Europe, albeit for different reasons in different countries (European Commission, 2015). “The main difficulties seem to be related to the changes that are affecting the nature of voluntary engagement, as well as a mismatch between the needs of voluntary organisations and the aspirations of the new generations of volunteers, rather than a drop in the number of volunteers.” (GHK, 2010, p. 12).
In Germany, the expansion of full-day schooling is frequently cited as an obstacle to volunteering, since it often leaves schoolchildren with less available free time (Züchner, 2012). This article examines this claim and investigates the extent to which engagement in voluntary work differs for children and young people attending half-day or full-day schools (research question 1). It also looks at whether the motives for such engagement, which are seen as a central predictor of voluntary work (Galindo-Kuhn & Ruth, 2002; Schnell & Hoof, 2012), differ for students at half-day and full-day schools (research question 2).
To answer our research questions, we draw on data from a recent study designed to enhance our knowledge of the situation for child and youth volunteers in Dortmund. As a former mining city in the Ruhr area of Germany, Dortmund is an interesting case study, not least because it has managed to a large extent to transform itself into a modern services and technology location – a structural change process that is currently underway in many parts of Europe. In the aforementioned study, over 800 child and youth volunteers were surveyed about their engagement in 2014 using an online questionnaire. These volunteers were contacted with the help of Jugendring Dortmund, an association that unites around 30 organisations with youth volunteers (e.g. Scouts, sports associations, Catholic and Protestant youth groups, etc.). The Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) and FreiwilligenAgentur (Volunteers Agency) also supported the survey. The latter has been active in Dortmund since 2003 and serves as a hub between citizens who want to volunteer and organisations from all sectors who are looking for volunteers. The organisations in which the survey participants volunteer were also asked to provide information about their work via an online questionnaire. Qualitative interviews were likewise held with selected volunteers, thus providing the study with a multi-perspective, triangulation design. The research questions are answered using a subsample of the study participants, namely 88 full-day and 194 half-day schoolchildren who engage in youth voluntary work. This selection is necessary to ascertain whether children and young people who attend half-day or full-day schools differ in their engagement in voluntary work and determine their motives for doing so. To answer the research questions in more depth, we have drawn on the guided interviews with six volunteers which also permit conclusions on a possible correlation between engagement in/motivation for voluntary work and school format. The questionnaires were analysed using descriptive statistics, means comparisons and factor analyses. The interviews were assessed using a content analysis (Neuendorf, 2002). Engagement (research question 1) was measured as the time spent volunteering. Motives were identified in line with Ryan and Deci (2000), distinguishing between extrinsic (e.g. meeting new people) and intrinsic (e.g. enjoyment of the work) motives.
With regard to our first research question, around 46 percent of students at half-day schools and 35 percent of those at full-day schools indicate that they spend up to five hours per week volunteering. Conversely, far more full-day students (34.1 %) than half-day students (19.8 %) volunteer for six to ten hours per week. No differences were determined between the two groups for an engagement of more that ten hours per week. Our postulated assumption that students at full-day schools would spend less time volunteering thus cannot be confirmed for those students who actually engage in volunteering activities. On the contrary: students at full-time schools in fact spend more time volunteering than their counterparts at half-day schools. As far as their motives for volunteering are concerned (research question 2), no differences could be ascertained between students at half-day or full-day schools. However, when we factor in the statements made during the guided interviews, attending a full-day school does feature as a reason for decreasing engagement in voluntary youth work. Nonetheless, it should be noted in this regard that the interviewees themselves did not go/had never gone to a full-day school and merely thought this would be the case for their peer group. In summary and based on this particular study, we can conclude that full-day schools do not constitute an exclusion factor for voluntary children and youth work. On the contrary: students at full-day schools in fact spend more time volunteering than those at half-day schools. However, any interpretation of these results must give due consideration the fact that this survey was restricted to students who already volunteer for youth work. It is therefore still feasible that students who attend full-day schools do not even volunteer for such work in the first place. Further studies are needed to analyse this desideratum.
Buschmann, M. (2009). Das Wissen zur Kinder- und Jugendarbeit. Die empirische Forschung 1998-2008. Ein kommentierter Überblick für die Praxis. Landesjugendring NRW: Arbeitskreis 5 (http://www.ljr-nrw.de/uploads/media/kinder-und-jugendarbeit-120809.pdf) Duguid, F., Mündel, K. & Schugurensky, D. (Eds.). (2013). Volunteer Work, Informal Learning and Social Action. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. European Commission (2015). Flash Eurobarometer 408. European Youth. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/flash/fl_408_en.pdf Gaston, S. & Kruger, M.L. (2014). Students Perceptions of volunteering during the first two years of studying a Social Work degree. International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 11. Galindo-Kuhn, R. & Guzley, R.M. (2002) The Volunteer Satisfaction Index, Journal of Social Service Research, 28:1, 45-68. GHK (2010). Volunteering in the European Union. Final Report. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/pdf/doc1018_en.pdf. Kosewska, B. (2015). Voluntary Activities of Polish People and its Motives in Recent Years: New Volunteering. Practice and Theory in System of Education, 10(4), 357-362. Longworth, N. (2003). Lifelong Learning in Action. Transforming Education in the 21st Century. London: Kogan Page. Nenga, S.K. (2012). Not the Community, but a Community: Transforming Youth into Citizens through Volunteer Work. Journal of Youth Studies, 15(8), 1063-1077. Neuendorf, K.A. (2002). The Content Analysis Guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54–67. Schnell, T. & Hoof, M. (2012) Meaningful commitment: finding meaning in volunteer work, Journal of Beliefs & Values, 33(1), 35-53, DOI: 10.1080/13617672.2012.650029 Vadeboncoeur, J. A. (2006). Engaging Young People: Learning in Informal Contexts. Review of Research in Education, 30, 239–278. Züchner I. (2012). Daily School Time, Workforce Participation, and Family Life: Time Spent in School as a Condition of Family Life. In M. Richter & S. Andresen (eds.), The Politicization of Parenthood. Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research (p. 281-297). Ort: Springer.
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