Can inclusive citizenship skills be taught while building universities that are more socially engaged?
1Students and teachers only show slight agreement with the statement that actions are being taken to promote diversity in the classrooms of Spanish universities (between the neutral position  and agreement , students and teaching staff scored an average of 3.46 and 3.63 points, respectively).
2Prior to the start of the experiment, first-year students showed a notable degree of empathy (126.1 out of a possible 165 points), this being higher among women (127.9) than men (118.1). In any event, the answers to the empathy test might have been biased due to stereotyped gender roles.
3Teaching methodology of an active nature and with cooperative components designed to strengthen empathetic capacity was not capable of modifying it during the period of the intervention (10 hours distributed across two and a half months). The average score stagnated at around 129 points in the group in which this methodology was applied exclusively.
4Teaching methodology of an active nature and with cooperative components designed to facilitate the development of moral competence did show itself to be effective. In the moral development group, the score in moral competence changed from below average (13.5 points) to above average (29.2 points) in just two and a half months (20 points are taken as the level required for coexistence in a democratic society).
The graph shows, firstly, that a teaching methodology based on perspective-taking, affective sharing, group reflection and introspection did not facilitate development of the empathetic capacity of first-year university students in the 10 hours of the intervention. A factor that might have made the teaching less effective would have been the high starting level of empathy which students said they possessed, this being related in turn with the mostly female composition of the sample.
Moreover, a teaching methodology based on posing dilemmas, debate between students adhering to opposing positions, mutual recognition of moral arguments of quality and introspection did promote the development of moral competence in a number of sessions equivalent to the empathy experiment. The improvement of moral competence was significantly greater in the group to which this methodology was applied exclusively, although an upwards tendency was observed in the moral judgements of the rest of the groups, probably due to the convergence of two factors: the life phase of the participants and the humanistic and social training components of the degrees being studied (Primary Education and Early Childhood Education).
The results of the ecological experiment represent an advance in the substantiation of the teaching of moral competence to first-year university students. From here, in this same sphere of innovation for inclusive teaching, it would be necessary to expand the research to other types of capacities (communication in contexts of diversity, attitude of social responsibility, ethics of care, etc.), as well as the integration of professionalising methodologies with those of training in citizenship, in both the university and community environments.
This line, in which research converges with innovation, would be integrated into the strategic plans of the universities, enabling them to give impetus to their social mission.