Best Practice I: Service Learning

The mission statement of Sacred Heart College emphasises four core values – holistic development, nation building, progress of  humanity, and the dissemination of knowledge. With these objectives the college has designed a platform – for learning through civic engagement – called Service Learning Programme.  The Programme is conceived as a sensitising project wherein all undergraduates are to do a minimum of 40 hours of mandatory social service.


To encourage physical and mental well-being and to take joy in effort.

To enable them to relate the knowledge gained to the real life situations

To build sensitivity towards fellow beings and the environment

To assist the local community

To encourage cleanliness and the preservation of the natural environment.

Category Duration Weightage Credits
UG Students 40 – 500 hours 1.5 weight for Manual work / Hour 1 Extra Credit

The Context

The rapid urbanisation and the rising trend of consumerism are steadily turning the state into a feedlot where the young people grow up with little awareness of the human effort behind the items they consume, especially the agricultural products. Similarly, the race for success and self-aggrandisement are turning the youth apathetic towards the disadvantaged communities. As an institution founded on the Christian values of love and service, the college considers as its mission to instil in the students a caring attitude not only to fellow human beings, especially those underprivileged, but also to all life forms around them. This includes the caring of the environment and sustainable practises in agriculture.

The multi-pronged-programme launched by the college is an exercise in experiential learning. Is has taken Sustainable practises, Sensitisation activities, Awareness programmes and Swatch mission as its core areas service.

The Practice

Sensitisation Drive

The student groups visit old-age homes; destitute/isolation wards and child cancer wards of hospitals periodically. Another initiative is “u3a” to train the elderly in computer, internet, smart phones, paper bag making etc.

Awareness Campaigns

Our volunteers organise cancer awareness classes with the support of medical practitioners. Periodical health check-up for the detection of cancer and lifestyle diseases, eye diseases etc., are held. 

Swatch Bharat

Weekly cleaning drives of public places, including the removal of litter and plastic waste, beautifying vacant lots and creating awareness among the public about cleanliness is an important activity.

Environment Conservation

Used pens are collected (around 5 kg/month!), recycle them and put them on sale through the Honesty Shop*.  Moreover, paper pens and handicraft items are made from waste paper and sold in the college.

Organic Farming

To initiate the youth into farming and to teach the local community sustainable agricultural practices, the college purchased 2 hectares of fallow land in a nearby village, and has been doing organic farming with the involvement of student volunteers.

Evidences of success

The sensitisation programmes have been hugely successful as the participants are able to empathise with the aged and the suffering.

The age-friendly programmes have provided the aged with a sense of independence and empowerment and even find post-retirement employment. It has shown to improve their mental health of both the students and the aged. The programme has won many accolades.

The swatch project is now being supported by the civic authorities. It has also helped the cultivation of the value of cleanliness.

The organic farming project has evoked the interest of the local community and the fallow land is now returning into farmland with guidance of the Service Learning team.

Problems Encountered & Resources Required

The students as well as the public were sceptical initially. However as the programme progressed enrolment increased and more public support came in terms of human resource and sponsorships. Fitting the programme into the schedule of the semester system was the first challenge.  The logistics involved is another. Moreover, raising additional human and material resources remains a challenge.

Best Practice II: SHARE and Research Incubation

SHARE (Sacred Heart Advanced Research Endeavour) is essentially a body formed in the college in 2010 with the aim of promoting a research culture among the students. The body consists of research scholars and research guides of the college and the faculty members with proven record in the area of research. The activities are coordinated by Dean of Research who is supported by the Deans of Science and Humanities. SHARE coordinates the research programmes of various departments by facilitating inter-disciplinary discussions, organising seminars on frontier areas, workshops, paper presentation sessions, as well as by helping them in applying for scholarships/fellowships, patents etc., It also supervises the allocation of seed money for research. Over the years, SHARE has observed that the students who join postgraduate and research programmes do not have adequate initiation into research and that proper initiation should be given to them at the UG and PG levels. Hence, in 2017 SHARE introduced a set of practices called ‘Research Incubation’ with the intention of improving the quality of UG and PG research projects and thereby providing the students with proper initiation into research.

Objectives of the Practice

Coordinate the research projects of students by preparing guidelines for UG and PG research projects.

Give necessary guidance and support to the research supervisors of various departments.

Facilitate funding through the seed-money corpus of the college

Provide necessary assistance to those who apply for minor and major research projects funded by external agencies.

The Context

Although the parent  university introduced a research project as a mandatory component for fulfilling the requirements for the award of UG or PG degree in the early 2000s, it was not given adequate emphasis by the colleges since very few students pursued research after their Master’s Programme. However, since the late 2010s more and more students showed interest in pursuing research after their Master’s Degree. This necessitated additional efforts to orient the students towards research. This included cultivating critical thinking habits in the students; train them in identifying a research area; guide them in formulating research problems; and finally help them in preparing research proposal. The concept of “Research Incubation” is the result of a series of deliberations in the SHARE committee meetings and trial and error.

The Practice

Research Incubation under SHARE begins with the selection of the topics for research at the UG and PG levels. In the first stage itself, students are allocated project guides and general instructions are given regarding the procedures to be followed for doing the project work. Each candidate has to keep a project journal in which the candidate has to record the outcome of the meetings with the project guide and it has to be duly signed by the latter. Having chosen an area for research, the students are asked to make a presentation of the proposal before an audience consisting of faculty members and peers. The candidate has to clarify questions regarding the objectives, methodology and outcome and the observations and recommendations by the audience are to be considered while proceeding with the work. After giving them to revise the proposal, a second round of the presentation is held. Once again the finer aspects of the project are discussed and if the proposal is found satisfactory, final approval is given for the continuation of the work. In the third phase, that is, in the final phase of the preparation of the project, SHARE supervises the plagiarism checking process and those which are found to have substantial amount of plagiarised content are returned to the candidates for resubmission.

SHARE also organises a science congress every year in which a competition of the presentation of select PG projects from various disciplines are held. The winners are given cash prices and a trophy. Moreover, those projects which are worthy of publication are recommended for publication in peer reviewed journals with necessary modifications. SHARE also recommends for seed money from the research corpus for those that are recommended for continued work and publication.

Accordingly, the students have to make presentations of the proposed research work before the faculty members and peers twice and get their approval before they proceed with the work. Once they start the work, they will have to maintain a journal in which they will have to record the progress of the work which is countersigned by the supervisor. The internal assessment marks for the project will be awarded on the basis of the effort put in by the students which will be evident from the journal.

Another initiative by SHARE is ‘Heartian Research Meet’ conducted biannually to review the progress of the ongoing major and minor research projects of the college. It is also used as a platform to prepare the half-yearly report of the research scholars of various research centres of the college, which is a mandatory requirement of the parent university.

Evidence of Success

Research Incubation has made significant improvement in the quality of the UG and PG projects. The rigorous scrutiny of the proposals encourage the students to write well-structured proposals. Attending the presentations by seniors gives the junior batches the exposure to research methodology. Another outcome is decrease in the complaints regarding the objectivity of the internal assessment of the project work. Project Journal is an objective document of progress of the work and it comes handy in internal assessment. There has been significant reduction in complaints regarding the internal evaluation of project work. Plagiarism check has made it difficult for the students to copy from secondary sources without acknowledging them. The Research Congress gives the students an opportunity to attend paper presentations by higher level researchers apart from the opportunity to participate in the competition. Since the launch Research Incubation, many students have been able to present papers based on their projects in national and international seminars. A few have also been successful in publishing their papers. Biannual ‘Heartian Research Meets’ have been successful in ensuring the quality of research of the Ph.D. scholars, as well as that of the externally funded projects, which is evidenced by a steady increase in the number of research publications over the years.

Problems Encountered and Resources Required

One of the major obstacles to the proper conduct of the programme is the paucity of time. Semester system being a roller-coaster ride, gives little time for activities of this kind. Nonetheless, the departments find time outside the class hours, if necessary, for the conduct of presentation sessions. If a candidate is absent on the day of presentation, a special session is called for the conduct of the same. Science Congress sessions and Research Meets are usually held on Saturdays and hence it does not affect the routine work in the college.

Plagiarism checking is often a thorny task as a number of students submit their work in the last minute for plagiarism checking. And if one of these works fails plagiarism check, they do not get adequate time to revise the work. This has led to the non-submission of projects in the past.

Organisation of seminars and workshops for research scholars require substantial resources in terms of honorarium for the experts and other organisational expenses.

Seed money given for research projects and price money given to winners of the competition are areas where the college has to find resources.

Much of the activities of the incubation programme are conducted outside the class hours. Hence the availability of the faculty time as well as that of the library staff is important for the programme.