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UIE, a University with a purpose

What is service-learning and what are its advantages?

If you are wondering what service-learning is, in this article you can find out. In short, it is a advanced techniquethat links the ethical level with the academic one. A win-win partnership agreement for all parties. Read on to learn more about how it works and its advantages.

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is an educational proposal based on learning while providing a service to the community. This is an innovative methodology. A new approach that demonstrates a social commitment.

The objective of any university is that the student acquires the necessary knowledge and experience, in accordance with the program of studies he/she is pursuing. However, the centers must have a social commitment and train good citizens.

With this training technique, the student not only acquires the necessary competencies within the framework of the subject or program on which the service-learning contract is based, but is committed to a solidarity project that helps him/her to forge a series of values. In this way, both the educational center and the student contribute to the creation of a better world.

As for UIE, the initiative comes from the teachers themselves within the framework of their own subject. It can even take the form of a project involving several subjects. Consequently, the objectives of service-learning must be clearly defined and related to training of the student and of the specific subject.

It is worth mentioning that it is a formula other than an internship contract and unrelated to volunteerism. This is because the student works with a series of objectives that must be evaluated. For a subject or project to use a social service, it must be considered that the student will acquire skills related to his or her training field.

What are the advantages of service-learning?

Social commitment

In a certain sense, education is at the service of society. It is about providing people with qualities and skills to solve problems and needs that arise in today’s and tomorrow’s world. In order to understand what service-learning is, it is necessary to understand that the social meaning of training elevates it to another level: students serve society directly, while acquiring their skills.

Collaboration and teamwork

In service-learning all parties involved benefit, both the educational center (the teaching staff) and the student and, of course, society.

Teachers can devote more time to other purposes by delegating certain training objectives to service-learning. The student has access to an enriching experience in every sense. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that the community is the one that receives the final benefit of these practices.

Collaboration and teamwork are some of the most valued qualities in business organizations and the student will be able to absorb and acquire these educational techniques and then apply them in the work environment.

Comprehensive training

In the UIE´s service-learning all the student’s proposals are taken into consideration by the course coordinators. Consequently, it is not an imposing model, but one in which the student must learn to develop his or her points of view and negotiate the initiatives that are implemented.

Through this experience, the student takes on an active role. The student is the protagonist and his/her communication, decision-making, strategic and organizational skills are put to the test.

In addition to technical (curricular) competencies, practical experience, soft skills development and moral values are acquired. All this contributes to a comprehensive training of the student both as a professional and as a person.

Encouraging volunteering

Through service-learning, both the students themselves and their environment are able to take a closer look at social issues. In addition, they will learn first-hand about the importance and functions of community organizations. All this contributes to the fact that more citizens decide to dedicate part of their time to collaborate with these purposes.

Although service-learning takes elements from volunteering, is far from being so. However, it is true that the community needs more personnel for the proper development of social goals. This leads to the conclusion that volunteering is still necessary.

Improvement in teaching

From the point of view of the subject or program, the knowledge imparted is reinforced. Teachers have an effective and innovative tool for providing higher quality training.

Teaching has always played a key role in society. But with the emergence of service-learning, the social level is also put at the service of teaching. Both the teachers and the staff of the training center take on the role of social dynamizers. People responsible for the citizens of the future and for improving the environment in which we live.

In turn, better quality teaching translates into better social change. And so on and so forth in a perfect ecosystem. Can you imagine the social change that can be brought about by training well-prepared professionals with a strong ethical commitment? Undoubtedly the benefits will be even greater if service-learning comes into play.

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