The doors of opportunity: How do community partners experience working as co-educators in a service-learning collaboration?


  • Alison Walker Swansea University, United Kingdom
  • Jenny Mercer Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
  • Leanne Freeman Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom


Service-Learning, community partners, co-educators, community collaboration


This article explores the experiences of organisations participating as Community Partners (CPs) and co-educators in a service-learning module in a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in South Wales, UK. It focuses on the opportunities and challenges faced by community organisations when working within the Service-learning (SL) model, and the relationship with the university and the students, including issues of expectation, assessment and identity. The partners provided SL placements of 30 hours or more in a range of community projects and organisations. These placements were intensely collaborative affairs. We researched the experiences of community partners to better understand the dynamics of the relationship; to better understand how to prepare community partners, HEIs and students; and to tease out how complex partnership projects like this one with multiple partners may be conducted successfully. A qualitative study was conducted. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis. Three main themes emerged from the data: Dynamic Tensions; For Each and Every One; and Broadening Horizons. The findings suggest that developing a transformation of the relationship is key to a strong and effective partnership. There needs to be active and dynamic collaboration between CPs and HEIs, including involvement in research projects like these, to better understand and navigate the pleasures and pains of successful cooperative relationships.


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How to Cite

The doors of opportunity: How do community partners experience working as co-educators in a service-learning collaboration?. (2021). Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 18(7), 56-70.