The European University of the Seas (SEA-EU) alliance, as one of the first among 17 alliances of the European universities, is dedicated to the establishment of the Service Learning Centre. A group of the SEA-EU experts was set up in early 2020 with the main goal: to create the Centre focused on the Service Learning (SL) implementation at the university level.
The SEA-EU Service Learning expert group has exchanged knowledge and teaching practices related to this learning format. They created a work plan, determined the main principles for the Service Learning implementation (guidelines), organised a study visit and helped to set up the basis for the Centre. The main goal of the Centre is to create the reference point for SL implementation at the Alliance level. Within that Centre, knowledge and practice are to be shared, enriched and promoted continuously. One of the ways to raise awareness on the SEA-EU SL activities is through organising a SEA-EU Service Learning conference.
SEA-EU SERVICE-LEARNING CONFERENCESEA-EU team of experts organised COMMUNITY-ENGAGED UNIVERSITY Conference that took place on 20th May 2022 in Split, Croatia.The conference was organised in a hybrid form (5 sections: 4 physical and 1 online) with 80 participants (physical and online) and 39 presentations. List of countries from which the presenters were: Spain, Poland, France, Germany, Croatia, Malta, Belgium, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia, Canada, Romania, United Kingdom.After the Conference, Community-Engaged University Proceedings was published. You can download it here:
More information about vision and mission of the SEA-EU Service Learning Centre
The SEA–EU Service Learning Centre aims to translate academic subjects (staff and students) through real-world activities that have a positive impact on all participants. Student teams operate within a SEA–EU host institution under the mentorship of SEA-EU professors or academic staff and the host institution.
The mission of the Centre is to create a connecting point for all SEA-EU teachers, administrative staff, students and external stakeholders willing to implement Service Learning as an active, innovative, inclusive and modern pedagogy method in the SEA-EU community. The SEA-EU community consists of six universities (University of Cádiz, University of Gdańsk, University of Western Brittany, Kiel University, University of Split and University of Malta).
The SEA–EU Service Learning Centre will be recognized by host institutions, students, and teaching staff as a valuable partner in higher education. Service Learning is valued as a learning format where students learn and gain international edge.
The vision of the Centre is to support students’ personal growth and to encourage them to be socially engaged academic citizens. Service Learning represents the social dimension of higher education learning which aims to develop changemaker competencies through engaging in collaborative work and thereby promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary hands-on approach. Through a problem-based learning approach the Centre strives to become a place where students are co-creating their learning experiences in which they are a subject rather than an object of their studies, thus improving their personalities and professional competencies.
The Centre should become a reference point where academics can receive all support when it comes to creating a new curriculum containing SL component. Moreover, it is envisaged as a place where experts can help academics connect with NGOs to ensure the sustainability of the Centre through new project applications and so become a matching creativity platform for different stakeholders.
More information about Service Learning
Service Learning is an innovative pedagogical approach that integrates meaningful community service or engagement into the curriculum and offers students academic credit for the learning that derives from active engagement within the community and work on a real-world problem.
Reflection and experiential learning strategies underpin the learning process, and the service is a link to the academic disciplines.
* Definition by Europa Engage (https://www.eoslhe.eu/what-we-do/)
Service-learning is a course-based, ECTS credit-bearing educational experience in which students a) participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and b) reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of personal values and civic responsibility.
* Definition by Bringle, R. G. & Hatcher, J. A. (1999). Reflection in Service Learning: Making Meaning or Experience. Evaluation/Reflection. 23. https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/slceeval/23 [2020-10-28].
Service-learning in higher education is an experiential educational method in which students engage in community service, reflect critically on this experience, and learn from it personally, socially and academically. The activities address human, social and environmental needs from the perspective of social justice and sustainable development, and aim at enriching learning in higher education, fostering civic responsibility and strengthening communities. Service-learning is always recognized with ECTS credits.
It brings together students, academics and the community whereby all become teaching resources, problem solvers and partners. In addition to enhancing academic and real world learning, the overall purpose is to instill in students a sense of civic engagement and responsibility and work towards positive social change within society.
Essential criteria of a service-learning experience
A good S-L practice is an experience that meets the main characteristics of this methodology:
1. Integrates meaningful service and meets real needs
2. The service is linked to the academic curriculum
3. Reflection is part of the learning process
4. Community organizations are valued as partners
5. Students have a strong voice
Service-Learning is not an internship!
Service-Learning is not volunteering!
Service Learning Center and SEA-EU Service Learning course catalogue
As part of the SEA-EU alliance the Service Learning Center has compiled a catalogue of Service Learning courses at SEA-EU universities. The catalogue contains a list of teachers experienced in Service Learning activities, course list with SL component, various projects and trainings offered across the alliance.
If you are searching for more information about Service Learning at your university, please contact one of the SL experts at the SEA-EU universities or send an e-mail to the: email@example.com.
Tips and tricks for teaching staff on how to implement Service Learning
Tips for SL implementation into your classes:
- Think about how you can contribute
As a citizen what current social topics are you passionate about? Do you volunteer? If yes, could you establish a SL partnership in that field?
- Diagnose a social need you feel you can address and contribute to some change that would benefit your local community
- Get in touch with NGOs and arrange cooperation
- Modify syllabus (where applicable) – offer students the opportunity to collect credit points through SL, set-up and communicate evaluation/exam criteria for the students
- Arrange the first meeting with the student and the mentor from the NGO, meet with them for mutual expectation-setting
- Design goals and learning process for the semester together with NGO’s and students
- Look for a plan for their meetings and activities
- Participate in the meetings
- Help the students develop an Activity Plan
- In the middle of the implementation, another meeting is necessary to be sure that everything is going according to the plan
- Provide students with information
- Monitor students’ work and document the results
- Finally, arrange a final meeting with the student and mentor
- Reflection – give feedback to the students and if needed, give grades according to your marking criteria.
The most important thing is to activate the motivation that every student has. Therefore, students should be put into the driving seat of their own learning process supported by guiding questions from the teachers and mentors at the NGOs.
There are three phases in the student motivation:
1. PREPARATION – brainstorm ideas for Service Learning projects that correspond to the learning outcomes of the course
This is a very important stage because it is necessary to choose an idea that covers the goals of the curricula for Service Learning. As an example, since environmental protection is a wide area, the topics “Sustainable Waste Management” and “Sustainable Tourism” could be selected as framework guidelines for selecting ideas for a student project. Also, at this stage, students collaborate with students from other faculties on the same project to ensure interdisciplinarity and teamwork.
2. IMPLEMENTATION OF SL project
After selecting the idea, students are focused on writing a project concept, developing a work plan with clearly defined steps.
3. REFLECTION – analysis of the impact of the Service Learning project on the community
Final phase – reflection includes an analysis of the impact of the Service Learning project on the community. Students reflect on their learning process, for example, through the learning diary method. The method was also used during consultations with students and in workshops where reflections were performed.
Note: Reflection is not much involved in classical teaching, so most students encountered reflection for the first time.
*Source: Buljac, Vukojević Medvidović, Vrsalović, Smoljko, Marušić and Carev (2021), power point from the UNIST Study visit: Service-learning in STEM area
Presentation with the public where component of student’s peer learning is emphasised. It is good to celebrate the success at the end of the process. Students need to feel special for what they do.
BENEFITS FOR TEACHERS AND HEIs:
- Teachers become aware of their social role and contribute to the development of society.
- University takes the role of the socially engaged University and works on bringing the academic community closer to society.
- Students are learning in real-life environments and they are more engaged in the learning process.
- Students are encouraged to make a difference with their work by sharing their knowledge, research and conclusions with the organisations working on real-world problems in the community.
- Teachers learn from students.
- Teachers connect through research interests and share knowledge and contacts with the community.
- Better image of the University.
- University becomes an active participant in society by engaging with solving social problems.
Tips and tricks for students on how to participate and benefit from Service Learning activities
Wake up, get involved! Be engaged and a valuable part of the community!
- Find teachers and courses that have a SL component, contact these people at SEA-EU universities to advise you and provide a list of the possibilities for you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or a S-L_expert at your university.
HOW TO START?
- Contact the teacher
- Sign-up for the course
- Get in contact (for example, go to meetings with the teacher and the mentor from the organization, develop a work plan and schedule meetings in collaboration with them, go to the organization regularly – according to the work plan)
- Try to achieve planned activities
- Report about it
- Be proud
WHY TO GET INVOLVED?
By engaging with Service Learning activities students become socially responsible members of society.
- Students become active participants in their learning process by choosing courses that have socially useful character.
- Students become self-aware, responsible and turn into active citizens
- Students better understand problems by engaging into real-life situations and examples.
- Students develop important future skills such as critical thinking and become able to cooperate with diverse and changing group settings
- Students gain practical work experience, career orientation; by putting theory into practice, build future networks, develop social skills through working in (intercultural) teams, project management, etc.
Tips and tricks for organisations on how to cooperate with Universities for Service Learning activities
Tips for successful implementation of SL activities in NGOs:
· Are you interested to participate? Contact SEA-EU at each of the 6 universities:
- Connect with a teacher who wants to collaborate
- Communicate your needs clearly
- Design goals and learning process for the semester together with teacher(s)
- Participate in meetings with teacher and students
- Help the students develop an Activity Plan
- Let the student into the organization
- Provide students with information
- Monitor students’ work and document the results
- The student is not a free worker – he or she is there to help you develop the agreed intellectual output
- Assess and review with teacher (and students) if goals and learning process have been achieved and what should be done differently/additionally in the future SL project