UCU completed a “Мonth of service learning”, which included open conferences, institutional meetings of the university community with vice-rectors and heads of academic departments and educational programs, and also training for teachers. In order to successfully introduce the service learning (S-L) educational approach (as part of UCU Strategy-2025), the teachers had three instructional sessions. Together with our partners, experts from Argentina, they step-by-step studied how to transform their courses according to the S-L model, and in conclusion they presented the projects they developed.
At one of the first meetings, experts in the service learning educational approach, Luz Avruj and Alejandra Herrero, training coordinators at CLAYSS, discussed with the teachers examples of service learning and how this approach works in various countries. Theoretical knowledge is reinforced by practical skills, so the meetings’ participants were divided into groups to carry out assignments and for discussion. They also proposed the first ideas for their projects.
The group moderators helped teachers develop their ideas at all stages: Iryna Krynytska, associate professor at UCU’s Department of Pedagogy and Social Work; Yulia Kleban, head of the IT and Business Analytics Program of the Applied Sciences Faculty; Yulia Kokoyachuk, head of the UCU Social Work Program; and Olha Matiychuk, head of the Academic Department. They are all participants in the working group to introduce service learning at UCU.
At the third, summary session for teachers, participants presented projects they themselves had developed, including:
Сompetition of student projects “Lviv Intelligent Traffic Challenge” – author Мyroslava Kushnir from the Applied Sciences Faculty sets a goal of finding “smart-decisions” for Lviv’s transport systems and stimulating innovative thinking for the users of public transport.
The project “READ LEAD SUCCEED” by Oksana Matiykiv of the UCU Center for Entrepreneurship and a teacher in the Worldview Core Program, aims at popularizing reading by organizing regular, ongoing local intellectual platforms (literary clubs) and encouraging school students and adults of the area to join.
Consultative support and fostering of effective public administration in remote regions, Myroslava Chekh, from the UCU Public Administration School. Students from the Master’s Program in Public Administration and Management as part of their professional training will travel to communities in remote regions with the goal of determining basic problems or needs. In this way, graduates will be able to help communities and community organizations solve their problems.
“Deviant behavior in schools: Search for alternative solutions.” Аuthor Аnastasia Shyroka, associate professor at the Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, together with students of the Social Work Program will work on overcoming the division between current knowledge of deviant behavior in children and the real situation in schools. They also plan to give attention to the creation of an environment where it is possible to apply the best practices to real school problems.
The goal of the project “I’m different,” by Yulia Vintoniv, of the Pastoral Theology Department, has as its goal a short presentation with the inclusive theater Both Smiles and Tears (Emmaus Center) involving students of the Worldview Core Program. This will be presented to the community and become part of the cultural life of UCU.
Yulia Kokoyachuk, a participant in the working group to introduce S-L at UCU and director of the UCU Social Work Program, plans, as part of the course Digital Communications, a project which will provide emotional support for social workers by developing and distributing thematic motivational images.
Luz Avruj of CLAYSS shares her impressions: “It’s very good that, on an institutional level, UCU is introducing service learning, focusing on service. All the ideas developed during these sessions are worthy of attention, and the main thing is that they demonstrate a strong desire to teach and learn for the good of society in various areas. We see how the working group is actively taking part in implementing this and ready to do everything necessary to spread teaching practices on the S-L model at UCU, interacting with the community.”
In addition to experience, all the participants of the session receive an opportunity to raise their professional qualifications with 30 hours of education, under condition of completing all the course assignments.
To support the interest of teachers in introducing S-L into UCU’s educational program, according to the results of next semester there will be awards for “outstanding service learning at UCU.” These awards will be monetary prizes to honor teachers who with excellence have demonstrated the use of service learning in practice in their courses and helped students successfully carry out S-L projects together with the community. There will be two categories for nominations: a service learning educational course and a service learning project as part of a course realized in the second semester of academic year 2020-2021. The winners will be announced at the end of the academic year and awarded at the UCU commencement ceremonies. In the near future the organizers plan to announce the rules of the competition and open the application process. We note that all teachers who apply will receive mentoring and direction in the realization of their educational courses and projects.