Taking stock of Engaged Learning


Working with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement and the University of Westminster this work examines how a sample of universities, based within the UK and internationally, are seeking to embed high value educational experiences for students which involve learning in community settings.

Engagement with the public and with civil society is increasingly animating all areas of university activity. This project focuses on areas of innovation and excellence in engaged learning from a wide range of UK and International universities. We draw on a small sample of universities (in the UK and beyond) facilitating engaged learning, service-learning and other forms of student knowledge exchange in University-Community settings. Underpinning these approaches is a focus on social and environmental justice.

The approach taken incorporates the following elements:

Survey: We invited people delivering this type of programme to submit examples of modules and courses that actively facilitate student learning in partnership with communities, audiences, and organisations external to the university (14 responses).

Interviews: We identified and conducted in-depth interviews with academics and public engagement professionals working on innovative projects that could be applied to the University of Westminster context (25 interviews).

Documentary review: We reviewed the evidence submitted by interview and survey respondents. This included: teaching and learning strategies, module descriptions, best practice guides, student outputs and curriculum frameworks.

Workshop: An insights workshop with colleagues from the University of Westminster and external guests with experience in facilitating service-learning to review the findings and explore the opportunities for the University of Westminster.

Report: A final report and resource pack to provide practical insight and tools to support universities in unlocking the potential of the curriculum for societal impact.

This report looks at how stronger links can be built to connect this educational activity to institutions' research, knowledge exchange and civic ambitions. We  identify the institutional barriers and enablers to embedding, and signpost some approaches to tackling these barriers; we look at key considerations that come into play when designing a service-learning module or programme and finally share a wide range of examples of service-learning from different disciplines and at different levels.

The report will be published by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement later in the year.

Image: Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival. Students from the University of the West of England undertake placements.

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