IO4: Study on Students’ Experiences with Service Learning

The development of the Study of Students’ Experiences with Service Learning will follow a participatory approach, actively involving students by inviting them to share their service learning experiences on a blog. The blog will specifically be created for project purposes, but through the blog format it will be able to reach students and people interested in service learning all over Europe, thereby enhancing its impact , dissemination value and sustainability of project outputs. Since online communication and communication via social media is a preferred communication mode for many students, the blog serves to facilitate communication among students – those with experience in service learning and those interested in embarking in service learning. By involving teachers in the writing of the blog entries, their ability to work with blogs and to integrate blogs into their teaching methods will be enhanced.

The following main activities will be carried out:

  • structure and set-up of the student blog;
  • implementing service learning projects;
  • writing the study regarding students experiences on service learning.

O4/A1: Structure and set-up of student blog (M21-M23)
The blog format corresponds to the short-writing styles of young people nowadays and their way of expressing emotions and experiences using short text and pictures. The structure of the online student blog will be set up in a participatory approach, involving students with service learning experiences as well as staff members. There will be several meetings in each partner university to structure and organise the online blog and to find an appealing and attractive way of setting it up. User accounts and digital intellectual property rights will have to be addressed in this task and the IO leader will provide a short recommendation paper how to deal with intellectual property rights in the blog. The blog will be written in English and will be translated in the national languages if needed once it will be transfered within the partners premises together with the tool development within IO1.

O4/A2: Implementing service learning projects (M24-M33)
The service learning projects will be designed and monitored using the blog by creating a schedule of weekly blog experiences, which students will write. 18 service learning projects will be implemented in total. Project staff members and teachers, who are involved in the project, will provide guidance to the students during their service learning projects and there will be regular meetings in class to reflect these projects.
Teachers will guide students to write about the most interesting aspects in the blog and will use logbooks for students to empower them to think about their experiences. In the blog short texts of about 1-2 pages will be posted per student, depending on the schedule, i.e. answering the question: How did you get in contact with your service learning project? or How did the community partners integrate you into the team? etc.
Guidance with the writing process will be provided by the project team as well as a language check, if needed.
The final evaluation of student learning will be base on reflection and preflection. The focus of the evaluation is on the students’ ability to meet course learning objectives. “Students should be graded for their learning, not for their service” (Howard, 2001). Another part of the assessment process is for the community partner to provide an evaluation of the student’s work.

O4/A3: Writing the study regarding students experiences with service learning (M34-M36)
The IO leader will select examples of blog entries which are illustrative of the service learning experience. The criteria for selection will be to incorporate a diversity of experiences into the report (different subject matters and fields of engagement, examples from all partner countries, positive and negative experiences – the latter ones pointing to learning opportunities). The selection by the IO leader will by feedbacked by partners, so that the consortium arrives at an agreed-upon selection. The student experiences will be presented and analysed in the synthesis report, indicating success factors and context conditions for integration of service learning into HEI curricula.

The experience acquired during the service learning projects implementation together with the implemented service learning projects and outcomes of the study will be used for updating the workbook “How to do service learning” (IO3).