Service Learning. A Workbook for Higher Education.

Social responsibility of universities as part of their “Third Mission” has become more and more popular in higher education. The Service Learning Approach stands out as a socially responsible teaching methodology; however, in many European higher education institutions the Service Learning Approach is still unknown. Current teaching material, toolkits and workbooks are being developed to promote this teaching approach from a European perspective, this workbook being one of them. It deals with Service Learning as a pedagogy in the context of higher education and aims to support higher education teachers, lecturers, and young researchers to run Service Learning courses. The workbook encourages them to make their own experiences with applied coursework.

The workbook is an output of the European project “ENGAGE STUDENTS – Promoting Social Responsibility of Students by Embedding Service Learning into Education Curricula”, a co-funded project by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union. The project focuses on social responsibility of higher education institutions at student and teacher level. The workbook draws on the practical experience of the project members from five partner universities in Europe (Dublin City University in Ireland, Porto University in Portugal, Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, University of Vienna in Austria, and  University Politehnica Bucharest in Romania), from planning and implementing such courses at university level. The workbook pursues the following targets:

  • Introduction to Service Learning: The workbook gives basic information and practical guidance for those who are unfamiliar with this pedagogy, want to change their applied coursework and are interested in promoting students’ civic engagement. It also offers numerous possibilities for reflection and in this sense critical awareness about the possibilities and constraints of applied coursework as such.
  • Relevant topics in teaching with the Service Learning Approach: The workbook presents relevant aspects and topics of teaching with this approach.
  • Pedagogical Resources and Tools: The workbook can be used as a resource book to guide the process of developing a new Service Learning course, addressing practical planning tools, open access materials, worksheets and other resources.

The workbook serves as a starting point for working with Service Learning approach for experiences and less experienced teachers. Short chapters make it easy for teachers to decide if the Service Learning Approach fits their teaching objectives and interests. Experienced teachers might be more interested in a specific topic and zoom into one of the chapters provided here. Practical guidance is given throughout the workbook using self-guided tasks, checklists, and reflection exercises.

The workbook’s structure is twofold: The first part focuses on Service Learning as a pedagogy and picks up foundations of Service Learning. The second part is more action-driven and provides guidance on key questions, action plans and examples for designing and conducting a Service Learning course on your own. This workbook is only available as an electronic source accessible here.