The Legacy of CIRCLET

The legacy of CIRCLET

After three years, the CIRCLET project leaves a strong legacy. Not just through the resources we created, but also through the professional development of the consortium itself, and that of our 104 academic participants who worked with more than 3,000 students and 165 community organisations. There is also a lasting legacy in the 53 modules that were redesigned as a result of our collaborative learning experiences.

The project set out to support university lecturers to embed community engaged research and learning (CERL) into their curriculum. CERL builds collaborations between community partners, lecturers and students to co-design and tackle small scale applied research projects, addressing community goals and enhancing student learning. The CIRCLET project is grateful for our €420,000 project funding through British Council/Erasmus Plus.

So what legacy does the project leave?

Facilitated Peer Learning Circles: The CIRCLET project offered consortium partners a chance to experiment with learning circles for lecturers to embed CERL in their own universities. Feedback from the lecturers was positive – they valued the opportunity for peer-learning across disciplines. Consortium partners found that the training and support offered by experts within the consortium also gave them a valuable learning experience. For more information see our Guide for Facilitators: Learning Circles for CERL.

Online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) module: There was also positive feedback on the CPD module. It offered an intensive learning experience and the prospect of a 5-ECTS qualification was an important factor for many participants. As an accredited module, a significant time commitment was required and this was a barrier for some. Therefore we are examining the potential for the module to be offered as short workshops to benefit a wider range of people. To find out more you can read our Guide for Facilitators: Online Continuing Professional Development Module.

Resources for lecturers: We also learned a lot from our participants about the benefits and opportunities of CERL, as well as about the challenges experienced by lecturers who want to engage in CERL projects with their students. Building on the experiences of our participants, we produced short guides offering reflective questions and tips and tricks for working with students; engaging with community organisations; rethinking/redesigning the curriculum and the university; and integrating educational technology. To find out more you can read our Guide for Lecturers.

Case Studies: We developed a range of case studies highlighting the experiences of lecturers, including how they worked to develop CERL in their own curricula. Examples range right across the spectrum, from social sciences and management through to health sciences, the arts, engineering, computer sciences and maths. To learn more about the experiences of our academics you can browse our Case Studies.

Beyond this CIRCLET leaves a legacy of strong relationships and a culture of reflection and enquiry amongst both consortium partners and participants. The work is continuing – academics are growing their CERL practice whilst partners are using CIRCLET resources to support new lecturers coming through. We are also actively sharing project results with our peers, through conferences and publications as well as through word-of-mouth. Please let us know how our project results have been useful to you by contacting any of the partner organisations listed below. (Resources for Lecturers) (Peer Learning Circles) (CPD Module) (Case Studies)