Human Resource Development & Service Learning Module at IT Tralee

Human Resource Development (HRD) & Service Learning is a mandatory component of the BSc. Health & Leisure Studies, at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.

The module gives students the opportunity to enhance their professional development through volunteering in an organization for 3 months duration. There they engage in action research, where they undertake a project which requires them to investigate the HRD practices within the organisation, research the motivations of volunteers within the organisation, critically and constructively observe its operations, evaluate their own contribution and offer recommendations for future improvement, if applicable. They are also required to compare the ‘macro’ trends in Irish volunteering with the ‘micro’ trends observed during their experience.

Students are expected to become involved in or continue their involvement in an organisation as a member, whereby a form of ethnographic research is facilitated; enabling real insight on the workings of each voluntary organisation.

Research on one student cohort in 2008 was undertaken, where they were surveyed in regard to their leadership life skills, prior to and following their volunteering episode, to establish if there was any significant difference in aspects of Community Leadership. The areas surveyed included: 1) Effective Team Skills, 2) Creative Problem Solver, 3) Personal Leadership Development, 4) Self-Directed Learning, and 5) Contribution to Community.

The findings established significant differences (p<.05) between the pre-initiative and post-initiative scores, under the following heading areas:

Effective Team Skills – “I encourage others”, whereby after the initiative students felt that they were better in this area then prior to the initiative.

Self -directed Learning – “I enjoy learning when my experiences pertain to real life”, students highlighting their value for on hands, real life learning, through a service learning model.

Contributor to Community – “I feel a responsibility to serve my community”, thus the initiative engendered a sense of social responsibility in students from their engagement with voluntary groups.

While this study highlights the very valuable soft skills and attitudinal changes inherent in a service learning project, the agencies involved also felt that they benefited from the student interaction, specifically in the area of receipt of new knowledge, enthusiasm & leadership.

For more information please contact: Edel Randel,



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