Motivating Students of Colleges and Universities for Research-Oriented Social Work

Motivating Students of Colleges and Universities for Research-Oriented Social Work

Published in University News, Association of Indian Universities

The paper presents a strategic action plan which aims at creating such a student community, which is capable of planning effective projects based on the ideas/concepts/ knowledge gained from formal education and implementing it skillfully in society. It talks about motivating students of colleges and universities to respond to the social and cultural needs of society. The paper highlights the strategies of providing humanitarian values, a platform to advertise itself in the competitive world, where people mostly think of working for their benefit. The keywords depicting some special concepts related to higher education are presented herewith.

Keywords: Community Service Research Cell, Golden Book, Votive Tablets, Action Research.

The advancement of knowledge through research is an essential function of higher education. The present era demands innovation and an interdisciplinary approach in the field of higher education in social science with long-term orientations on social and cultural aims and needs. Keeping pace with the demand of time the university education system must have the scope to create and disseminate knowledge through research and provide a service to the community in the socio-cultural field. To enable the university education system to play such a significant role in society ’Community Service Research Cell’ can be established in the university. The cell can provide the students an opportunity for individual development along with the scope for education for citizenship and active participation in society, with a worldwide vision for the consolidation of human rights, sustainable development, democracy and peace, in a context of justice.

Role of ’Community Service Research Cell’:
The ’Community Service Research Cell’ can provide a platform to those students who are interested in planning effective projects based on the ideas/concepts/knowledge gained from formal education and implementing it skillfully in society. In this way, it can promote research-oriented community service. This research will be interdisciplinary as any crisis related to human life usually needs to be seen in its historical context to understand the roots effectively. It is pertinent to understand the psychological impact of the crisis on the lives of the people. The economic and the financial perspectives are needed to be explored to plan an effective project to combat the crisis. Besides, literary/ artistic/ educational or other disciplinarian approaches can enable a project thereby creating a positive impact on the social condition of the locality.
The cell can provide a platform to the students for two types of researches. Firstly, ’Action Research’ and Secondly, ’Theoretical Research’. The Action Research can deal with the direct implementation of a project in a locality to deal with the specific crisis of the locality. Theoretical Research can deal with the planning of modules that could be implemented in a specific locality or society in general, to combat the crises of a locality or society.
The functioning of such cells like CSRC requires an Advisory Board comprised of honorary members and a Coordinator.
The CSRC could provide support and guidance to the team of students from the same college or different colleges or from any university, who has conceived an idea for Action or Theoretical Research. Even the cell can be open to receive the ideas of the passed out students of college or university and voluntary organizations. The cell can play an important role by opening an avenue for the young generation to express their ideas to serve society based on their knowledge and experiences.

Role of Coordinator in CSRC:
In CSRC the role of the coordinator is very vital. The coordinator will serve as a bridge between the advisory board and the student team and shoulder the responsibilities of understanding the idea conceived by the student team, explaining the objectives of CSRC to the students, identifying the resource persons who could help the student team in better understanding of the idea conceived by them and support and guide the team to prepare the project proposal. Finally, the coordinator will inspire the team to work on the project. Apart from these responsibilities the coordinator can organize workshops for the student team with the resource persons. Equipped by such workshops the student team can prepare the project proposal and present it before the advisory board and the resource persons in the meeting organized by the coordinator. The effective proposals could be accepted by CSRC and forwarded to the Ministry of Higher Education for funding. The amount may be disbursed to the account of the university if the Ministry of Higher Education sanctions grants for the project. The documentation of the accomplished project may be sent to the Ministry of Higher Education via CSRC. In the case of Action Research, the special mention of the arrangements made for the sustainability of the effects created by the project must be emphasized.
As in the case of Action Research, the financial support for the project is a vital issue, so the Advisory Board and the Resource persons can motivate the team to approach companies and the local businessmen to provide financial support to make the project possible. Since the subjects like Economics and Business Management deal with financial issues, so the students of the above-said subjects can be motivated to enrich the project proposal by presenting innovative ways to avail the financial support of companies and the local businessmen for the project. In such a case, the students’ team should be suggested to include students having innovative ideas from the above-said subjects in their team.

Coping with the students’ mentality of studying to secure high marks to grab good jobs:
Motivating students to work for CSRC is a challenging issue. The main challenge is to cope up with the students’ mentality of studying to secure high marks to grab good jobs. The students could be motivated to go for research under CSRC by introducing the concept of ’Golden Book’ in the Ministry of Higher Education.
In the case of Action Research, if the project is found to be successfully implemented in the locality and case of ’Theoretical Research’ if the module presented in the project is found effective by the team of experts appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education, the name of the university and the student team could be registered in the ’Golden Book’. In that case, a separate ’Golden Book Page’ can be created on the website of the Ministry of Higher Education, which will contain the details of the projects performed by the student team under CSRC of a university. By the virtue of the registration of the name in ’Golden Book’ the University and the members of the student team can get a ’Golden Book ID No.’ and the University can get the right of issuing Votive Tablets against its entry in Golden Book.
The ’Votive Tablet’ is the tablet dedicated and given in fulfillment of a pledge or vow in ancient India. The use of these tablets for above said purpose can motivate the students to take the pledge or the vow with the vision to serve society through their effective social work.
The practice of giving votive tablets originated in India and the practice was carried forward by the Buddhist monks to other countries of the world. The Buddhist sites from the 2nd to 1st century BC are found decorated with such votive tablets. During ancient times the villagers of the Thai province when visited by their relatives or friends of other provinces used to bring along votive tablets as a form of souvenir. The monks made these tablets not only for distribution among the faithful but also as a meditative exercise.

Significance of Votive Tablets:
Votive Tablet can be a significant gift for the guests of the University. It can be presented as a souvenir, a memento that can reflect the special status of the University. The ’Votive’ word has a sense of pledge, this feature of the word ’Votive’ can be highlighted to motivate students to take a pledge to uplift a locality. In the existing competitive world, most people are motivated to work for their benefit or profit. The works inspired by humanitarian values are rarely encouraged. Under such circumstances, votive tablets will advertise the glamour of humanitarian values. If the right to distribute votive tablets is provided to a university by a remarkable event organized by the Ministry of Higher Education, then it will give rise to positive competition among the college and university students to facilitate society through CSRC and get their names registered in ’Golden Book’. The provision of mentioning the names of companies, industries and the local businessmen in the ’Golden Book’ and the provision of presenting a special Votive Tablet to them by the University in the accomplishment of the project can motivate them to provide financial support for the project.
The use of Votive Tablet can be made more meaningful if it contains Golden Book Registration Number, Pledge statement, Website address, where the details of the project done could be seen and Star number. Each star will represent each project. Example: 7* (for seven accomplished projects).
The Golden Book ID issued to the members of the student team can be in the form of a certificate. By the virtue of the certificate, there could be a provision to secure extra marks in any job interview for government posts. This provision can motivate students to work under CSRC.

Theoretical Research and Action Research under CSRC:
Theoretical Research and Action Research could be done under CSRC. These researches are needed to be interdisciplinary and to be done in a team. In the case of Theoretical Research, there should be a special thrust to present a module to combat any prevalent crisis of an area. The team can plan the project for a locality or it can be presented as a module in general. The aims and objectives, vision, concept note, the feature of the locality where it could be applied, the crises with which the project will deal, the sustainability of the module and the criteria to measure the impact of the module are implemented in a locality is needed to be very specific in the research work. In the case of Action Research, the project is required to be initiated with the survey of the area, where it is to be implemented. It may be based on a module presented by any ’Theoretical Research Team’ or it could be based on any famous module or combination of more than one module. But, the module should gear up to the needs and interests of the concerned locality. Sustainability, as well as the period of the ’Action Research’ along with the criteria to measure the impact of the project, must be very specific in the case of ’Action Research’.

Role of CSRC apart from promoting research:
Apart from promoting research, CSRC can organize interactive sessions with students and eminent personalities as well as with the student team, whose names have been registered in the Golden Book. It can organize workshops or lectures for creating awareness among the students about the mission and vision of CSRC and the scope of working in the cell. It can also inspire the students to take a pledge to use their knowledge for the upliftment of society. Through the cell, leadership training, time management training, training for attaining peace of mind could be given to enable students to develop a philosophy of life to cope up with the changes in life and society. At least one such event of a duration of 2 hours could be organized within 45 working days by keeping pace with the timetable of regular post-graduation courses.
Maintaining an open register by CSRC could give scope to a single student to write about an idea conceived by him/her and this practice could help a single student to find other students having similar thoughts.

CSRC can mitigate the gap between knowledge and action. It can motivate the students for social work. The locality-based action research under CSRC can lead to the betterment of the living standard of the people of that locality. It can create skilled human resources ready to work in self-help groups. Such efforts could bring in positive changes in the health, education and various other dimensions of the lives of youth, children and women in a specific locality. The diversified plans can lead to the multi-faceted development of an area. The critical thinking ability of the students could also be enhanced by such research. Apart from that, the students will learn that securing good marks and grabbing a good job is not the sole aim of education. Enhancing social work through gained knowledge can bring pride and honour for them. This understanding can lead to the socialization of students’ personalities. Moreover, the humanitarian values will also get a platform for its advertisement in this competitive world by these efforts. Along with that, the students will get good exposure through social work and the psychological needs of the students like, the quest for their own identity and formation of their philosophy of life could also be catered through it.

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