New funding for keeping cool and volunteers

June 24, 2013

The Federal Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching has awarded a pair of grants to Murdoch University-led projects on teacher resilience and student volunteering.

‘Volunteering to learn’ will look at the rising trend of university students volunteering, exploring the practice as a learning process, pathway to employment and as a means of engaging with the greater community.

Funded to $250,000, it involves Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Western Australia, Macquarie University, Volunteering WA and Volunteering Australia.

Project leader Dr Megan Paull from the School of Management and Governance said the study would look at current models being used by universities across Australia to see how various volunteering approaches benefited students, universities and host organisations.

“We’re interested in how volunteering affects learning, and how practices such as volunteering for credit can change the nature of the experience,” Dr Paull said.

“There’s evidence that students get a lot of benefit from volunteering, especially if it is guided and fits into the learning context, but there are concerns that if universities mandate it, is it still volunteering?.

“We’re also going to gather information from host organisations in order to get their perspective on problems and benefits.

“As volunteering, Service Learning and Work Integrated Learning become the norm, we need to make sure everyone benefits by identifying good practices for all stakeholders.”

Murdoch University also received funding to continue work on building teacher resilience, with $150,000 going to Dr Caroline Mansfield from the School of Education and her collaborators from Curtin University and the University of Wollongong.

‘BRiTE: Keeping cool by building resilience in teacher education’ builds on the successful current Keeping Cool project by creating a series of online learning modules for use in teacher education programs.

The modules will be aligned with the National Professional Standards for Teaching, developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), and will include structured authentic learning activities and implementation guidelines for teacher educators.

“The project aims to assist teacher education students build the personal and social capabilities associated with professional resilience and engages stakeholders across the nation,” Dr Mansfield said.

“Building capacity for resilience in teacher education is an important step in preparing teachers for the profession, especially in the light of national and international teacher quality and retention issues.”

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