Edited by Pierre Benckendorff and Anita Zehrer
Chapter 18: Students in action: a destination-based learning approach to student engagement
Cognisant of the importance of student engagement in education being an international concern, this chapter outlines a project to enhance student engagement undertaken at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. The ‘Students in Action Project’ involved students from a range of programs and modules in the School of Hospitality and Tourism working with the local community and businesses of two tourism destinations: Slane, Co. Meath and Drogheda, Co. Louth in Ireland. The aim was to involve students in an active collaborative learning environment using a destination-based approach to define the parameters of engagement and collaboration and identify ways in which tourism and hospitality within the destination could be enhanced. In contrast to many previous studies on student engagement, the destination-based approach takes a more holistic view by including local industry, industry groups as well as civic and broader community members as key components of the destination. This chapter outlines the motivations underpinning the project, the process involved, and reflects on the benefits, limitations and lessons learnt. Outcomes beyond those intended arose from engaging with stakeholders outside the educational institution. The project has been a steep learning curve for all, and ongoing planning, negotiation and reflection are essential to the process. Fundamentally, all participants – staff, students and destination stakeholders – agreed that the rich outputs justified the effort involved.
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