SERVICE-LEARNING IN COMPUTER SCIENCE: LEARNING THROUGH SOCIAL ACTION IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Service-learning is an educational and teaching methodology designed to engage students in working out the problems formulated on their courses, at the same time that they carry out a social work. The main idea is to take advantage of the student’s work, whose exercises can be developed on a social scene. In this case, both service and learning feeds the other because service improves the learning and learning enhances the service.
Besides developing social responsibility, service-learning promotes meaningful learning and provides a richer experience, improving learning outcomes and professional competency development. This happens because service-learning provides students’ academic tasks with sense, increasing intrinsic motivation.
In this paper we present a successful experience of using service-learning with first level undergraduate students in Computer Science. In the context of Operating Systems, students work in groups to install and configure a collection of personal computers recently discarded by our higher education institution. The task goal is to make these systems run with free software, turning old computers into functional devices that will be then donated to a non-profit organization or directly to end-users with less economical resources.
The experience is being evaluated in two aspects: the competency level showed by students after completing the task, and their motivation and subjective learning experience. This evaluation is intended to show the positive effect of service-learning in the context of formal education.