The influence of service-learning on the development of sustainability competencies amongst university students

Cebrian, Gisela; Fernandez, Monica; Teresa Fuertes, Maria; Moraleda, Alvaro; Segalas, Jordi


Volume Issue Pages DOI / ISBN / ISSN
71 3 151-167 DOI: 10.13042/Bordon.2019.68276


Language Country
Spanish Spain


INTRODUCTION. The aim of this research was to find out the impact that service-learning methodology has on the development of sustainability competences amongst university students (namely those taking the degrees of Primary, Infant and Social Education) of three Spanish Universities UAM and USAL). METHOD. A sample of 129 university students of the academic year 2017-18 was used. A pre-experimental study was carried out, a pre-test-post-test study with natural groups, without a control group. The purpose was to assess the development of competencies in sustainability amongst students undertaking five modules taught through service-learning as the teaching and learning strategy. RESULTS. The results of this study show that service-learning has contributed to improve the understanding and knowledge of sustainability, as well as the interrelations between the social, environmental and economic dimensions in the five cases studied. In addition, the findings of this study demonstrate how the use of service-learning promotes the development of practical skills associated with action. DISCUSSION. It is evident that service-learning has a significant influence on the development of the competence for sustainability related to the contextualization of knowledge and the interrelation between social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability. Of the three levels of competence acquisition: Knowledge; Know how; Doing, we observed that service-learning has a greater impact on the Know how level. This is attributed to the methodology, which focuses on praxis and the application of theoretical knowledge in real practical contexts. Specific modules in sustainability are those that most contribute to the competencies for learning about sustainability . In addition to the holistic integration of these competences in the curriculum, it is necessary to include specific subjects in sustainability.


Service-learning; Competence; Students; Sustainability; Higher Education

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