Service Learning
A teaching tool connecting community and classroom

Service Learning Literacy Pilot Project

Information on Service Learning Literacy Pilot Project

Course Director: Dr. Dermot Burns

Dermot teaches a range of courses in the English Department at National University of Ireland, Galway. His main areas of expertise are Medieval and Renaissance literature. A graduate of the Universities of Surrey, Leeds and Galway, Dermot taught second level English for a number of years in the UK, being awarded the prestigious Advanced Skills Teacher status by government inspectors for excellence in teaching and outstanding examination performance. Dermot has worked as an education consultant, literacy coordinator and learning specialist in Ireland and the UK. He teaches Academic Writing, Study Skills, Research Skills and Examination Preparation in a number of departments at NUI, Galway.

Course Title: EN150: Literacy and Learning in the Community
Subject: Literacy Acquisition
Year: Visiting US Study Abroad Students
Participants: 30 students
Hours: 36 class hours plus 20 hours working in the community
Credits: 5 ECTS
Length: One semester
Community Partners:
Various homework clubs in the Galway area.

This course teaches visiting US Study Abroad students about literacy acquisition and pedagogy. Students are introduced to a range of theories concerning literacy learning and teaching; they will develop academic knowledge and practical skills in this field. The course also organises work experience placements for students to attend. These will be one session per week in local homework clubs. This practical community work affords students the opportunity to put some of the theoretical information they have covered in lectures into action; moreover, it will develop interpersonal and teaching skills. There will be an emphasis placed on learning through fun and games as well as shared reading exercises. Students will submit a reflective learning portfolio about their work experience at the end of the course. The course is particularly suitable for those students interested in careers in education, psychology or social work; however, all applications will be considered. Students are required to attend one lecture and one tutorial per week as well as one session at a homework club.

During their studies, students will learn how to listen to the voices of school students, how to develop strategies and techniques to overcome literacy and reading obstacles, how to use new technologies to engage students more actively in the learning process and how to reflect critically on their own contribution. Through the production of presentations, reports and written and oral reflections, they will learn how to integrate research into the undergraduate learning experience and by engaging in collaborative projects they will gain a stronger understanding of the value of international learning communities. By participating in a third-level reading/mentoring program, and by sharing their experience with international colleagues, students will learn valuable skills which will be of benefit not just to school students but also to society.