Community based research to enhance student learning

Burns, Kenneth, Scully, Siobhan and O'Mahony, Catherine (2011) Community based research to enhance student learning. [Conference Proceedings]


Science shops are an innovative mechanism to create and transfer knowledge in response to concerns experienced by civil society (EC, 2003). A research question is proposed by local/regional civil society organisations (CSO) to be carried out by the student in the HEI facilitated by the Science Shop. This bottom-up approach to research facilitates civic engagement by the student as makes them aware of the potential impact of research on society. Similarly, the support of community based research approaches such as the Science Shop may help in fulfilling the civic mission of Higher Education. Science Shop projects build upon existing supervision structures, but are based on real-life problems. The CSO commissioning the research is involved throughout the research process and develops a collaborative relationship with the student. The intention of Science Shop model is research for action (Stoecker, 2002), thus the final research results are translated into a series of recommendations, which are reported back to the CSO. This is followed by a discussion on how best the organisation might implement these recommendations. The UCC Science Shop has facilitated four student projects in the recent year and engaged with three CSOs with a view to expansion in the 2011/12 academic year. The students are undertaking a Masters in Social work and the projects are centred on an assessment of the services provided by the CSOs with the aim of improving these services or highlighting the impact of these services. The presentation will outline the Science Shop research process and the civic engagement aspect of this approach. The presentation will be given by Science Shop staff and students from the MSW with a view to providing an overview of experiences of participating in this form of research and initial conclusions as to what impact it had on student learning and civic engagement.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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