Developing Students’ Transferable Skills Through Service Leadership of an Inclusive Learning Community

One important aim of higher education is to develop students’ attributes and skills that can be applied in their future careers. Apart from contributing to their employability, the skills students gain during their university experience can enhance their personal and social capacity and prepare them to take leadership roles in the community.

This paper presents a study examining the development of secondary school and special educational needs students’ transferable skills through active participation in an inclusive learning community. Students were trained to take a service leadership role in the learning community as part of a general education course on service leadership and learning communities. The study adopted a mixed-method design. Pre-and post-course questionnaire surveys and follow-up interviews were conducted with a sample of 27 students enrolled in the course. Data analysis revealed a statistically significant increase in the scores of attributes related to the appreciation of diversity, respect, contribution to society, and civic engagement after completing the course. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data indicated an increase in understanding of social inclusion, demonstration of service leadership skills and willingness to contribute to society by undertaking leadership roles. Students demonstrated empathy, respect and effective communication. They delegated roles to others and reflected on their leadership experience. Results of the study highlight the importance of empowering students to undertake leadership in a learning community of diverse populations in real-life settings. This authentic experience contributes to the development of important skills and attributes for students’ personal and social development.

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Posted by IAFOR