Service Learning gives students the opportunity to develop professional skills within the learning framework of their academic course whilst cultivating a community-based mindset.
Service Learning is a strong compliment to our extracurricular activities of Practical Volunteering and Skilled Placements. As an in-curricular opportunity in an assessed and accredited module, Service Learning is able to reach students who most struggle with barriers to extracurricular opportunities, and provides a gateway for a community-based experience which supports students’ academic and graduate skills.
Why we do it
Student Hubs brings our community partnership expertise and capacity to universities and academics who want to build in community-based learning. We work with academics to identify community partners, supporting the partners to develop their briefs for students, and providing training and support for the students during their module.
This collaborative approach adds capacity to academics, allowing them to focus on students’ learning and assessment, and supports our university partners with a consistent, well-mapped approach across their institution.
Students involved in Service Learning learn skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and project management. They also develop their emotional intelligence and resilience, supporting their progression to graduate-level employment.
Using this model, students shift from knowledge receivers to idea generators. Addressing relevant community needs and seeing their solutions implemented in the real world engages students with their course, leading to richer learning experiences, greater academic attainment and improved retention.
“Working with real clients makes the whole project more interesting and serious. Knowing that you can use this on your CV is another motivating aspect. Getting this type of responsibility as university students really gives us the chance to show how professional and dedicated we can be.”
– Service Learning Student
How it works
Service Learning projects are wide-ranging. We are able to co-design a suitable format and find projects, briefs and community partners appropriate for most courses. Projects are typically research, consultancy or practical in nature, with briefs often targeted at specific functions e.g. marketing and communications, data analysis or design.
The steps we follow as part of our Service Learning programme include:
- Student Hubs staff work with academics to identify learning outcomes, assessments and target skills for students
- Together with the academic, we co-create a Service Learning format that meets identified outcomes (eg research, consultancy)
- Student Hubs staff reach out to their Hub community partners, sourcing the local organisations who will support the module
- Student Hubs staff work with the community partner(s) to design appropriate briefs and projects following the academics’ guidance
- Student Hubs staff plan extra support and training students will need for the project (eg training, seminars, workshops, drop-ins)
- We co-deliver the programme following with evaluation and reflection on student and community outcomes
“The initiatives have been really great for the students. They have introduced real-world learning into their programme and have enabled us to deliver a more diverse and authentic learning experience. They have also given us the opportunity to bring new faces … into the classroom thus giving the students a better experience and a better awareness of their employability skills. They have also benefited from the fact that their efforts are contributing to wider communities. Students said … that contributing to the community made their activities meaningful.”
– Service Learning Academic