Moving to e-Service Learning in Higher Education
2. Literature Review
3. Methodological and Curricular Context
3.1. Methodological Context
- Project-Based Learning (PBL): The experience of the American pedagogue Edgar Dale indicates that the deepest learning comes precisely from direct experience, i.e., we learn when we perform the activity we wish to learn, which is known as learning by doing . Therefore, this learning based on projects, problems, and cases is incorporated in the teaching of our subjects . The support of ICT in an increasingly virtual teaching is essential for the effectiveness of this methodology [29,30,31].
- Tutored work: The learning is based on small work teams (2–3 students), always supervised by the professor. Group work increases individual performance and fosters interpersonal and social skills, enabling efficient time management and the feasibility of projects that otherwise could not be addressed in the classroom. The model selected for these subjects is that of collaborative learning, even though individual student assessment becomes more difficult. In this collaborative work, both the formation of the groups and the division of work are assigned to the student, thus encouraging creativity and learning by discovery, as well as their responsibility not only with their work, but with the final result of the group [32,33].
- SL: Since we must put into practice the theoretical concepts of the classroom in situations close to the student’s reality [34,35], SL, as introduced before, is an innovative teaching methodology to combine both acquisition of academic and other transversal competences and a service to the community.
3.2. Curricular Context
4. Framework for Online Activities
5. Materials and Methods
5.2. Service-Learning Project Description
- Step 1: Distributing work. At the beginning, students enrolled in the course were offered the opportunity to participate in a voluntary SL activity. The students were divided into different teams, so that each team was in charge of organizing a workshop. This distribution was designed to allow the participants to get the most out of the activity. In order to learn about the curricular training of students, a survey on entry profile was used (see assessment instrument 1 in Table 4).
- Step 2: Organizing the SL activity. The first session of the activity was done face-to-face in the classroom. The students received instructions on the general contents of the workshops and the orientation of each of them, as well as information on the entity with which they were going to work.A website was created for each subject, which included the students, the two entities, and the professors of the two degrees to be able to follow the activities together and compare experiences. The students had on the website all information for the realization of the experience (instructions for the creation of videos and podcasts, calendar, permissions of images, etc.). On the first day, the students were also taught how to navigate through the information on that website. On the website, the students had a file where they uploaded the signed consents to be able to record and take photos of the activities. Students could find the initial information for the realization of the project in another file: the script of the activity with its chronograph, recommendations for the creation of multimedia material, a summary of activities of previous years so that they would not repeat the experiments, the assessment criteria so that the students are clear from the beginning how they would be assessed or podcasts of students from previous experiences. Until now, students came to the classroom to explain their experience participating in the project. In this course, to safeguard the health of students and not to mix them in the classroom, it was decided to record podcasts in which the students who had previously participated encouraged the new students to participate.After this first session, the students had to fill out two surveys from the project website: one of them serves the purpose to find out their expectations about the SL activity, and the other to find out students’ initial competences in environmental sustainability (see assessment instruments 2 and 3, respectively, in Table 4).
- Step 3: Visiting entities. After this presentation session, a visit was made to each of the entities. This academic year, due to COVID-19, the visit was virtual, that is, students and professors met with entities through a video call in case of Bachelor’s Degree, and by means of a video sent by the entity published on the website for the Master’s Degree. As everything was connected from the website, requests and messages with the team members were greatly facilitated. In these virtual visits, the entities talked about their work and only in some cases referred to the Bachelor’s activity; the students had the opportunity to meet the users of the entity and listen to their life experiences. These visits, although virtual, were very useful to take into account the possible problems that users could have in the proposed activities and to design them in the most appropriate way.After the virtual visit, each student had to fill out a new survey through a link on the web to comment on their impressions, motivations, and concerns (see assessment instrument 4 in Table 4). The students had approximately one week to search for information and try to outline what they had planned to do in the activity with the users. Considering the predetermined themes (physics, technological projects or responsible consumption/recycling/reuse), the students had total freedom to propose the dynamics used to transmit these concepts to the users (experiments, games, videos, etc.).
- Step 4: Working on the SL activity. After the preparation period, the first tutorial was hold for the Bachelor’s subject, during which the proposals made by the students were evaluated and modifications were made if necessary. Once the activities were outlined, the students had a period of approximately two and a half weeks to prepare the presentations and the experiments, reuse the prototypes, design activities, games, etc., that would be used in the activity with the entities, and also to prepare videos and podcasts with their projects. In the next tutorial, the students presented all prepared material and the professors proposed all necessary changes. The students uploaded the prepared material to the corresponding web section with their work team. The corrections were made in online documents, so that the students could see the changes made synchronously. In the tutorial, only doubts that arose in this regard were discussed. Once the corrections were made, the entities could also review the materials (videos, presentations, posters, etc.), especially for adaptation. In addition, the fact that therapists of entities could see in advance what was happening in each experiment would also help them to support the participants on the day of the activity. Following feedback from entities, the students made final modifications, where necessary, and the materials were finally ready.For the Master’s Degree, the two tutorials were carried out simultaneously by the professors and all students, in which the projects were shared and the necessary correction and improvement comments were made to achieve the desired result.
- Step 5: Performing the SL activity. Four projects were done in the case of the Bachelor’s Degree: playing with magnets, corn, playing with the octopus’ game, and construction of lamps. One can see the corresponding photos of these projects in Figure 3. A few days before the activities, the professor in charge visited each center and brought the necessary material to do the experiments simultaneously with the students. The day of the SL virtual session, the students connected with their professors who did the experiments and the participants were replicating these experiments in their center with the help of the therapists. In spite of the sound or Internet connectivity problems that could exist in some moments, the experience went very well and the participants were able to perform the experiments perfectly.For the Master’s Degree, the final projects were a tank-robot equipped with movement, a drip irrigation system made with recycled material, a small electronic game, and a 3D projector that makes use of a mobile application. One can see the respective photos in Figure 3. Due to the complicated social-health situation in the first months of the year 2021, the activity was carried out exclusively online. The therapists of the entity provided their users of the adult life program with all videos made by the students, and the vast majority were encouraged to make them at home. A single on-site workshop was held at the organization’s headquarters, selected from among the four projects presented, based on the characteristics of the target audience. The specialists chose the drip irrigation system project. Two workshops were held, each lasting an hour and a half, in which a team of five and a team of four adults, respectively, carried out the proposed activity, with the help of the professionals and the multimedia material prepared by the students. In general, the users were motivated to participate in the workshop and were able to organize themselves autonomously to carry out the proposal. Some of them found the drip irrigation system so useful that they even implemented it in their homes.Once the activity was over, the student had to fill in the final survey to know their assessment of the SL projects (see assessment instrument 5 in Table 4). At the end of the activity, all materials created by the students (videos, podcasts, etc.) were uploaded to the main page of the web, so that both professors and students could see them for assessment tasks.
- Step 6: SL assessment. The students were invited to an online session in which they watched the different videos and assessed themselves (self-assessment) and their peers (co-assessment). They also received the corresponding assessment from professors (hetero-assessment). For both cases, see the assessment instruments 6 and 7 in Table 4. All professors assessed the SL experience by means of e-Rubric 8 in Table 4 and their own teaching performance using survey 9 of that table. Finally, the entities also filled in on the web (the link was sent to them and they were given access) the students’ assessment rubric and the satisfaction survey about the SL experience (see assessment instruments 10 an 11, respectively, from Table 4). The users also answered a series of short questions evaluating different aspects of the activity by means of the survey 12 of that table.
5.3. Data Collection and Analysis
6. Results and Discussion
6.1. Students’ Reflections and Survey Results
“It will be a challenge but also a huge learning” (16 November 2020, girl, 27 years old).
“I would like to do a job that contributes as much as it teaches me and to be able to spread it so that more people sign up to carry out these kind of activities” (16 November 2020, boy, 26 years old).
“The opportunity to get closer to people who are not in our daily lives but who are a significant part of society and it is our obligation to take them into account. In addition, these people tend to see life from another perspective, I am eager to learn from them” (8 February 2021, boy, 18 years old).
“I think it will be a very interesting activity and that in the future it will help us to think about the whole world when we have to design something in our work” (8 February 2021, boy, 18 years old).
“I think it is a different activity, that not many teachers would be willing to do and with which we are going to feel very fulfilled” (8 February 2021, girl, 18 years old).
“Learning and seeing life differently are my highest expectations” (8 February 2021, girl, 18 years old).
“In the pandemic situation we are in, I don’t know how it will turn out if we are not able to have direct contact” (16 November 2020, boy, 26 years old).
“The main question I have would be how to prepare a robotics activity and explain it in a 10 min video” (16 December 2020, girl, 27 years old).
“I have not knowledge about Asperger’s and how we should treat people with this disorder, nor what type of activities are best suited by them” (16 November 2020, boy, 31 years old).
“Everything they told us about Asperger syndrome, and especially the treatments and recommendations they made for our work, I mean; use short and simple sentences, but it was surprising for me the motivation of entity staff tackle these collaborative tasks” (26 November 2020, boy, 26 years old).
“They seemed much more accessible than I expected” (26 November 2020, girl, 27 years old).
“I was surprised that users have such a large range of technical skills” (16 November 2020, boy, 31 years old).
“The visit to the organization, the psychologist’s talk and her presentation, have helped me eliminate the damage or low awareness I had about cases of autism. Overall, I really enjoyed the visit, expanded my knowledge on the subject, and opened my mind more to autism. I’m looking forward to starting work” (22 February 2021, girl, 18 years old).
“Before the visit I was worried about how to adapt the materials, now I’m sure that from the entity they will lend a hand” (22 February 2021, girl, 18 years old).
“This project has made me think about the possibility of having to focus my classes and my explanations for other types of students and understand and try to adapt to their level of attention” (2 February 2021, boy, 27 years old).
“In my opinion, the best project done in the Master’s Degree, by far. A motivation goal while learning first hand to use a very interesting methodology” (2 February 2021, girl, 26 years old).
“It simply came to our notice then. I think public speaking is very important and it was an opportunity to practice and improve. I also learned a lot about recycling” (13 May 2021, boy, 18 years old).
“How I can contribute something on a personal level” (13 May 2021, girl, 18 years old).
6.2. Feedback of Entity Staff
6.3. Feedback of the Users
- Did you enjoy participating in the online activity?
- Did you enjoy getting to know the university student?
- Did you find the experiments fun?
- Did the experiments help you better understand some things?
- Would you tell your friends and acquaintances that you had a good time?
- Would you like to do it again?
- We leave you a space in case you want to tell us more about the activity.
6.4. Professors’ Reflections
6.5. Project Assessment
- Needs: it would be desirable for the student to discover new needs of the participants throughout project development. For this purpose, a longer time scheduling would be decisive and this is precisely one of the weakest points identified by all agents involved.
- Sense of service: similarly, for the student to be aware of social dimension and service limits, a longer time of involvement with entities is necessary.
- Collaboration: although the entities collaborate actively in the project design, it would be desirable for them to be more involved in the activity organization.
- Consolidation of centers: although SL is included in the teaching guides of several subjects and University of A Coruña reinforces and facilitates these methodologies, they are not included in educational programs as such, so that there is room for improvement in this aspect.
- Consolidation of the entity: SL activities are part of activity programs of entities but they do not represent a purpose of their work; so, this will be achieved over time.
6.6. Website Assessment
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|ASD||Autism Spectrum Disorder|
|EHEA||European Higher Education Area|
|ICT||Information and Communication Technologies|
|SDG||Sustainable Development Goals|
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|Specific||General and Transversal|
|To work effectively as an individual and as a member of diverse and multidisciplinary teams.||To express oneself correctly, both orally and in writing, in the official languages of the region.|
|Ability to design, draft, and manage projects in all their diversity and phases.||To develop for the exercise of an open, educated, critical, committed, democratic and supportive citizenship, able to analyze reality, diagnose problems, formulate, and implement solutions based on knowledge and oriented to the common good.|
|To work collaboratively. Knowledge of group dynamics and teamwork.|
|Communicate effectively in a work environment.|
|Specific||General and Transversal|
|To know the formative and cultural value of the subjects corresponding to the specialization.||To express oneself correctly, both orally and in writing, in the official languages of the region.|
|To know the contents that are studied in the respective courses.||Use the basic tools of ICT necessary for the exercise of their profession and for learning throughout their lives.|
|To know the history and recent developments of the subjects and their perspectives in order to be able to transmit a dynamic vision of them.||Value the importance of research, innovation, and technological development in the socioeconomic and cultural progress of society.|
|To know the contexts and situations in which the different curricular contents are used or applied.|
|Outlook||Creation of a group for each subject|
|Teams||Creation of a team for each subject. Video calls and chats between students, professors and entities (staff and users)|
|SharePoint||Website and documentary management|
|Forms||Self-assessment, co-assessment, hetero-assessment, entity surveys, and rubrics|
|OneDrive||Online repository to share material|
|No.||Tools||Type of Questions||Respondent||Assessed||Type of Data Analysis|
|1||Survey for entry profile||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Student||Student||Quantitative and qualitative|
|2||Survey for initial reflections and motivations||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Student||Student||Quantitative and qualitative|
|3||Survey for environmental sustainability||Single-select multiple choice question||Student||Student||Quantitative|
|4||Survey for entity assessment||Open text||Student||Entity||Qualitative|
|5||Survey for SL assessment||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Student||Service and learning||Quantitative and qualitative|
|6||e-Rubric for group work assessment||Single-select multiple choice question||Professor, student||Others and the student working group itself||Quantitative|
|7||e-Rubric for individual work assessment||Single-select multiple choice question||Professor, student||Others and the student itself||Quantitative|
|8||e-Rubric for SL assessment||Single-select multiple choice question||Professor||SL||Quantitative|
|9||Survey for teaching assessment||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Professor||Teaching||Quantitative and qualitative|
|10||e-Rubric for student assessment||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Entity||All students||Quantitative and qualitative|
|11||Survey for service assessment||Single-select multiple choice question and open text||Entity||Service||Quantitative and qualitative|
|12||Survey for quality perception||YES/NO question and open text||Users||Service||Quantitative and qualitative|
|Public speaking||Decision making||Self-learning||Recognition of diversity|
|Defend ideas||Capacity for analysis and synthesis||Apply theoretical knowledge||Awareness of prejudices|
|Accept other opinions||Organization and planning skills||Quality motivation||Ethical commitment to society|
|Meet deadlines||Critical thinking||Ability to react to unforeseen events||Empathy|
|Tolerance and respect||Ability to select truthful information||Initiative||Solidarity|
|Capacity for group work||Adaptation of materials||Creativity||Improvement of self-esteem|
|Use of ICT||Leadership||Learn to teach|
|Effective oral and written communication||Learn from mistakes|
|Capacity for argumentation||Learn from those who are different|
|Recognize their role as designers|
|Tool Strengths||Students Percentage|
|Easy access to the assessment|
|Allow to work collaboratively|
|Allow to learn about the work of others|
|Allow to store shared documents|
|Allow to comfortably view the work done|
|Facilitates communication with teachers|
|There is a lot of work from teachers|
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Dapena, A.; Castro, P.M.; Ares-Pernas, A. Moving to e-Service Learning in Higher Education. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 5462. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12115462
Dapena A, Castro PM, Ares-Pernas A. Moving to e-Service Learning in Higher Education. Applied Sciences. 2022; 12(11):5462. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12115462Chicago/Turabian Style
Dapena, Adriana, Paula M. Castro, and Ana Ares-Pernas. 2022. "Moving to e-Service Learning in Higher Education" Applied Sciences 12, no. 11: 5462. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12115462