Naval, C. & Arbués, E. (2018) (Eds.). Hacer la Universidad en el espacio social [Constructing the university in the social space]. (Emanuele Balduzzi)



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Naval, C. & Arbués, E. (2018) (Eds.).



The book analysed here, which contains contributions by various university teachers working in Spain, sets out to provide an in-depth analysis of the significant educational, ethical, and social value the service-learning methodology can provide. The pedagogical stimuli presented in the text are undoubtedly of great interest and value from this perspective, precisely because they underline how this methodology makes it possible to promote an educational pathway that considers command of the competences that must be developed in each academic context, and which are now also widely shared at an international level. Service-learning also offers an opportunity to develop competences that can improve the social aptitudes and civic skills required for the balanced, harmonious growth of people who are sensitive to and participate in the demands of the social environment they inhabit by doing specific community and solidarity activities, human qualities that are also decisive in a future professional setting. ,,

The work reviewed here has eight chapters on this topic. The first three chapters present its rationale. The following chapters present the results of empirical research projects, which show the advantages of this methodology from an educational perspective. ,,

Chapter one, by Miguel A. Santos Rego, Mar Lorenzo Moledo, and Ígor Mella Núñez from the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, analyses in detail whether it is advisable to institutionalise this methodology in the university setting. Among the arguments set out, the authors are able to highlight that it is important to avoid «reductionist positions » (p. 26) when making this decision, as the «temptation to create bureaucracy, beyond what is strictly necessary» would be deeply counterproductive. In the next chapter, Juan Luis Fuentes and Ernesto López Gómez, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distanciarespectively, study the relationships and interconnections between service-learning and character education methodologies in their respective reciprocal positive influences. In particular, the authors note that «service-learning offers us a piece that fits well into the puzzle of character education» (p. 69), especially reinforcing moral and intellectual virtues. In the third chapter, Pilar Aramburuzabala, from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, rightly considers that «to analyse the effects of this methodology on service-learning, it is first necessary to ask what learning is» (p. 79), and then proceeds to set out all of the positive outcomes this methodology can have if it is appropriately understood and mastered, without losing sight of the pedagogical focus, which is also presented in the conclusion (p. 94). ,,

The other five chapters are written by teachers from the Universidad de Navarra. In them, they set out the results of various pieces of empirical research on the utility and impact of this methodology in learning and growth. The first of these chapters, which is the book’s fourth, is by Natalia Vera, Concepción Naval, and Elena Arbués. In it they underline how teaching staff’s work and style can «contribute to the development of a pedagogical model intended to optimize students’ learning» (pp. 100-101), especially through the service-learning methodology. The questionnaires distributed online to 760 teachers (of which 365 were returned with reliable data) show, among other aspects, «the high level of interest in university social responsibility by the teachers surveyed» (p. 111). In the next chapter, Sara Ibarrola-García and Ana Costa investigate the extent to which this methodology has a positive effect on student education (using a sample of 225 students from various faculties at the University of Navarra). This provides an encouraging perspective, as the students who participate report very positive opinions of service-learning, especially regarding «the opportunity this activity has given them to acquire professional skills and put into practice social and civic attitudes» (p. 131). After this, a chapter by Ana Costa and Álvaro Bañón, using the Economics and Business Studies Faculty of the Universidad de Navarra as an example, analyses how it is possible for students to implement service-learning activities in their undergraduate dissertations, especially in view of developing the «acquisition of professional, personal, and civic competences» (p. 161). Finally, Sara Ibarrola-García and Sara Carrica-Ochoa write the last two chapters. The first of them aims to investigate the impact of service-learning in an «experience of linguistic support for immigrant children with problems learning Spanish» (p. 167) carried out in the Language learning and attention to linguistic diversity module. Finally, the closing chapter covers a project for service-learning which was used in the Foundations and strategies for socio-educational action I module. ,,

In conclusion, it would be impossible to summarise the richness of the questions and reflections expounded in this work. However, the depth of the reflections in the first set of chapters and the practicaland empirical confirmation laid out in the following ones make this a work of great interest, which anyone working in the different educational settings will undoubtedly find stimulating and inspiring. ,,

Emanuele Balduzzi

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