APS 2023



Now that service learning (SL) has taken root in higher education more than a decade ago, it is essential to stop and reflect on the impact it has had and to evaluate it. It is necessary to analyse the transformative effects of SL on all the agents involved: organisations and communities, students, teaching staff and the entire university institution. In order to detect and assess this impact, eclectic evaluation strategies are needed, based on different methodologies that are at the same time malleable, adaptable to the diversity of projects and initiatives that inspire SL: quantitative and qualitative; specific to each field or discipline or transversal, and that demonstrate its tangible and intangible effects (cognitive, ethical, emotional). We therefore aim to highlight the multiple transformations that SL can bring about and, and in the meantime, evaluate the evaluation itself: what, how, when, where and for what purpose it is evaluated.

Impact and evaluation will therefore be the key concepts of this conference, which aims to take an X-ray of university-based SL without avoiding its chiaroscuros (such as the lack of impact in certain sectors or the ethical dilemmas inherent in certain interventions).


Specifically, the aim is to reflect on impact in these three areas and around these questions:

1. Impact on the organisations and their community

Does SL transform the community? Does the university effectively promote community service? Is collaboration with the university a means of innovation and renewal for organisations and social platforms? Does SL generate synergies between organisations and students? Does the social conception of the university change as a result of SL projects? Do organisations evaluate the impact of participating in SL projects? Are all agents involved in co-evaluation?

2. Impact on the student

Does SL shape the social outlook of young people by bringing them into contact with other realities? Does SL encourage them to learn how to learn? Does it promote the discovery of one's own interests and professional orientations? Does it foster professional skills and strategies? Does it promote a multifaceted view and a critical perspective on different social issues? Does it help to perceive the global problems of the 21st century? How is student participation and empowerment promoted before/during/after SL projects? What evaluation and self-evaluation tools are necessary to extract the full potential of SL? Is the student encouraged to have different roles in the same project?

3. Impact on teachers and the university

Does SL serve as a catalyst for teaching innovation? Does it foster more dialog and multifaceted classroom dynamics (and not so univocal and unidirectional) perspectives? Does SL induce symbiosis between teaching and research? Does it promote new lines of research? Does it bring about changes in perspective and new ethical dilemmas for researchers? Does it help to focus on interstitial or introspective spaces of society and research? Does it open the university to society and press it to work for improvement? Does the teacher know how to adapt assessment strategies to the idiosyncrasies of each project? Does the teacher promote assessment in all areas, or does he/she focus on the student?

Research papers focusing on impact and evaluation and containing any of these elements will be particularly welcome:

  • Co-organised presentations between different evaluating agents: students, organisations and teaching staff.
  • Methodologies, strategies and dynamics of evaluation, co-evaluation and self-evaluation.
  • Qualitative research that focuses on the quality of learning of all the agents involved, including personal, experiential and introspective components, and based on diverse research methodologies such as biographical accounts and life stories, focus groups, interviews or case studies.
  • Quantitative inputs based on new evaluation indicators that also take into account all actors involved in SL.
  • Research contributions based on experiences in the field: their critical and dialogical perspective that report and discuss the less successful aspects will be valued.

Experiences explaining and describing SL projects are also welcome and will be presented in poster format.