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Practical Research with cooperating Schools – Service Learning in a Viennese school

COVID-19 needs to be addressed

he cooperating school for the Service Learning project is a Secondary College for Business Administration (5 grades, general and business-oriented education) in Vienna, Austria. As an “e-Education-Austria-School“, the school was already well positioned for home schooling before the COVID-19 pandemic, both technically and didactically.

Nevertheless, all involved had to try out and get to know many new tools and methods under the special conditions of “involuntary” and distance teaching without exception in all subjects. This semester, with the help of the cooperative school project, the school team would like to find out which elements of distance learning could also be integrated into teaching after the pandemic because, from the students’ point of view, they have worked well for their acquisition of competencies.

Country: Austria

Year: 2020-2021

Institution: University of Vienna

# of students: 20

Interaction with beneficiaries: Virtual

Academic Degree: Undergraduate

Discipline(s): Education

Community Service Area & ODS: Quality Education

Brief description

The course takes place as a research service learning course within the framework of the cooperative school projects of the Center for Teacher Education. Cooperating schools of the Center for Teacher Education are schools that bring a current school problem to the university, which they want to work on with the university teaching team (teachers and students). The goals of the Service Learning project originate from the school (real needs). This semester the social partner is a Secondary College for Business Administration.

Service objectives:
• Analyze the curriculum of the school type and filter information essential for the project.
• Collect and systematize information and tools about distance learning at schools
• Observations in various distance learning settings (participation in online classes at the collaborating school).
• Planning and conducting exploratory qualitative interviews with teachers
• Planning and implementation of an empirical study of the students’ perspective (online questionnaire).
• Presentation and discussion of the results at school
• Providing a written report

Learning objecitves:
• Acquisition of generic competencies
o Students gain authentic learning experience in the field.
o Students learn applied project management skills through experience in planning and conducting a research project in a cooperating school.
o Students gain presentation experience in practice and learn to communicate scientific knowledge in a practical way (science communication).
o Students try out communication skills in practice and reflect on this critically.
o Students reflect on their (emotional) experiences in practice and possible learning occasions derived from them with the help of structured reflection questions (learning through emotion).
o Students experience themselves in a research role in practice, which is addressed and reflected upon in the course.
o Students acquire self-efficacy in a practice context.
o Students learn participatory work with both adolescent and teachers.

• Acquisition of subject-related competencies for teacher education
o Students gain and reflect on competencies in school and teaching development.
o Students acquire knowledge and reflect on the possibilities and limitations of distance education in schools.
o Students experience research-based learning and apply school research methods in an applied context.
o Students develop initial analysis skills for school as a holistic system, school development, and instruction.

Reflection Process:
Guidance through weekly reflection (in writing in an online reflection diary) and participation in discussions with the course leaders – Need-based choice of topics: e.g. quality assurance, professional communication, one’s role in the school, etc.

The Service-Learning course is part of the Erasmus+ Project ENGAGE STUDENTS. Promoting Social Responsibility of Students by Embedding Service Learning into Education Curricula