Service Learning Class Interviews

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NCI Service Learning Initiative

Service learning is a reciprocal partnership where both sides teach and both sides learn. Both sides contribute and both sides gain.

We define service learning as a type of experiential education in which students participate in the community and reflect on their involvement in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content and its relationship to social needs and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility. Jacoby, B (2003)

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History of Civic Engagement at NCI

The National College of Ireland was originally known as the Catholic Workers' College and was located in Ranelagh. In 2000 the college relocated to the Docklands and rebranded itself completely. With this change and the new campus came the college's new mission statement concerning participation in further education and unlocking student potential. The president of the NCI of the time, Joyce O'Connor had wide experience in voluntary sectors and community development and encouraged the college to have a fundamental connection with the area around it.

The Early Learning Initiative (ELI) was founded in order to 'improve the educational attainment in inner city communities, adjacent to the National College of Ireland.'  This programme aims to provide learning support programmes, which enable positive educational change in the local community. This is done through several programmes run by the ELI.

Two of the programmes are, NCI Students as Role Models; and the Parent Child Home Programme. NCI students take part in several projects in local primary schools in areas such as I.T. and reading which help local children, and offer students the chance to become civically engaged. The Parent Child Home Programme (PCHP) is designed to help pre-school children learn and grow. Home visitors train for two full years and develop teaching skills in order to help children in the local area.

The Service Learning Module was introduced as an elective in the Academic year 2010/11 and is going from strength to strength providing an opportunity for students to engage in the community in a meaningful way and benefit from this engagement through the broad based experience they gain and the opportunity to gain academic credits for their work with the community. From the college's history and the Early Learning Initiative we can see that civic engagement is a vital part of NCI's ethos.


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Service Learning Module Descriptor

Service Learning - Learning for Service Learning



Who is this module for?

BA (Honours) in Human Resource Management

BA (Honours) in Financial Services

BA (Honours in Business

BA (Honours) in Accounting

BA (Honours) in Accounting and HRM.


When is this module taught?

Stage 2 Semester 1.Elective in all cases


What do I have to have studied before?

No Pre-requisite Modules


Do I have to study this with a linked module?

Yes, Stage 2 Semester 2  Community Based Project


How is this module taught?

Lecture; Tutorial; Practice; Self Guided Study


What is this module about?

To provide an insight into the nature of learning, including service learning and help students to enhance both their own learning and use that learning to help groups in the community .


What will I learn

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

LO1.  Explain the nature of learning and key theoretical approaches to learning.

LO1.  Apply the principles of effective learning to their study.

LO1.  Discuss the principles of service learning.

LO1.  Identify opportunities for effective service learning at local community level.


How is this module assessed?

Continuous Assessment 50%
The two continuous assessment elements, a portfolio and reflective journal, aim to stimulate ongoing reflective learning early in the educational experience. (LO1, LO3)


Portfolio (30%)

The first element of assessment will take the form of a portfolio of work completed over the semester.  The portfolio will consist of application exercises as well as short essay answers.
Reflective Journal (20%)
As part of the reflective journal students will keep in year one of the programme, they will reflect on their approach to learning and development of their learning skills.


Practical 50%
Learners will apply the principles of effective learning to the development of their course notes. They will be asked to identify opportunities for service learning at local community level. (LO2 and LO4)


 Service Learning: Community Based Project


Who is this module for?

It's a continuation for those who took Learning For Service Learning in Semester 1


When Is This Module Taught?

Stage 2, Semester 2


What Do I Have To Have Studied Before?

Yes you must have completed Learning for Service Learning


Do I Have To Study This With A Linked Subject?

Stage 1 Semester 1 module:

Learning for Service Learning


How is this Module Taught?


Lecture; Tutorial; Practical; Self-Guided Study


What Is This Module About?

Learners will select a topic or project of significant interest to a community organisation and apply their knowledge and skill in an integrated way to its improvement, planning or implementation as appropriate. In line with the philosophy of service learning the modules aim is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and help learners apply their academic studies to community based practice. The focus of each learners community based project will vary in accordance with individual interests and community contexts but all will achieve the learning outcomes addressed below. Students will be supported through lectures on literature search and review as well as sessions with the tutor where each student will develop ideas for his or her own service learning project.


What Will I Learn?

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

LO1. Conduct a detailed and current literature review on a new project or service of interest to a community organisation.

LO2. Apply the concepts of research design to a research question.

LO3. Conduct primary research with one stakeholder group using a qualitative method to address a given research question.

LO4. Analyse the results of primary research using appropriate techniques.

LO5. Generate conclusions and recommendations


How Is This Module Assessed?

Project (100%):

The project for this module will take the form of a community based project. Based on their studies in year two students are required to identify a new project or service that may be of interest to a community organisation they are familiar with. Based on a research question, students will design a research approach and time plan. Each project will involve secondary research in the form of a literature review and primary research involving one qualitative method with one stakeholder group. Students will analyse their primary research findings, this will enable the student to generate conclusions and recommendations for the organisation studied.

This form of assessment is guided by the nature of the learning outcomes and assesses them directly (LO1 LO5)



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Service Learning?

Service Learning is a type of experiential education in which students participate in the community and reflect on their involvement in such a way as to gain further understanding of their own course content and its relationship to social needs and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Students make meaningful connections between what they are studying and it application to the community through guided reflective writing and classroom discussion

What is the difference between Service Learning and Volunteering?

Service Learning creates a reciprocal partnership where both sides contribute and both sides gain. Each partner teaches the other and each learns from the other.

In Volunteering it is usually the community who gains most.  In Service Learning the student provides an important service to the community AND at the same time learns about different aspects of the subjects they are studying for their degree. They also get to practice communcation skills and develop their analytical ability.

Service-Learning combines SERVICE with LEARNING in intentional ways.

How can I get involved in Service Learning?

Service Learning is an elective module in second year at NCI.  Give it a go and see how much fun you can have.

How do I find a community group to work with?

A number of community partnerships have been developed between NCI and local community groups and the course lecturer and NCI student services can help you to find a group to work with. If you already have a community group you are associated with or do some volunteer work with you could find out if they have a project that would fit the criteria for Service Learning.  See our Partnerships tab for more information on a sample of opportunities available.

What are the criteria for a Service Learning partnership?

  • Project must have clearly stated learning goals - what will you gain from the engagement with the community?
  • The Service being provided must be aligned with the academic programme you are undertaking.
  • The project must provide an opportunity for you to transfer knowledge and skills from one setting (academic) to another (community service).
  • The Service-Learning project must lead to attainable and visible outcomes that are valued by all of the partners.
  • The project will provide an opportunity for reflection through a variety of verbal and written activities to demonstrate understanding and changes in your knowledge, skills and/or attitudes.  This reflection will be guided through journaling, class discussion and in other forums.

What types of Service Learning partnerships have previous students engaged in?

In the academic year 2011/12 students engaged in a number of different partnerships available ranging from finding volunteers to work with children on a holiday camp; providing a fund to enable a student to continue to third-level education in Argentina; recruiting new players for a GAA club where numbers were declining; developing Health and Safety Statement and book-keeping processes for an after-school group; and assisting in the development of an awareness campaign for a group working on suicide prevention.

How does the Service Learning module work?

There is a two hour lecture and a one hour tutorial each week. Sometimes the class is formal and sometimes it is informal.  We do a lot of brainstorming and open discussion; which can be interesting and a lot of fun.  We have presentations to do as well as lots of academic stuff.  It is 100% continuous assessment. See the module descriptor for more information.

How can Service Learning help my career?

By taking part in a Service Learning partnership, we are demonstrating to a potential employer that we are capable of reaching out to the community in an unselfish manner.  We are also showing that there is more to us than academics.  You are given an opportunity to work on a chosen project and by doing this you are gaining valuable knowledge and REAL practical experience, it's an opportunity for active learning in a hands-on environment. The experience will provide you with excellent examples to share with recruiters on topics such as leadership, communications, problem-solving and time-management.

What time limits are there in place while working on a Service Learning programme in a community?

People who participate in a Service Learning partnership work on a particular project. There is no actual time frame and it is up to the individual how long it takes them to work on the project in question.  Usually a project runs for the duration of the Service Learning module. The module descriptor provides a guideline on the number of hours required.

How can a business sponsor a Service Learning programme?

There is plenty of scope for businesses to get on board.  If a project group had even a small amount of funding it opens up opportunities for them to be more creative in providing a service to the community. It also adds another dimension to the project in budgeting and allocating that funding.

Is it necessary to attend class?

It is absolutely vital to attend class if you want to get the most out of the module. There are several small groups in the class, who work on a selection of projects, but the whole class works together on a variety of things as well, and everyone helps each other out.

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