Source: Shelley Billig and Felicia Freeman, RMC Research Corporation, August 2010.
One approach for advancing the practice of service-learning is to promote the adoption of service-learning as an instructional strategy for teacher education programs. According to Anderson and Erickson’s 2003 study, about 59% of all teacher education programs provide teachers with opportunities to learn about service-learning strategies as an instructional approach. Only about 24% of the programs provided teacher candidates with opportunities to engage in service-learning and about 18% gave teacher candidates opportunities to develop lesson plans using service-learning. About 20% placed teacher candidates for internships with teachers experienced in using service-learning.
In California, despite strong efforts, Furco and Ammon (2000) found that most teacher educators did not accurately understand service-learning, often confusing it with field placement or student teaching.
Multiple researchers have investigated the impact of participation in service-learning on teacher candidates and generally found very positive results. For example, Strage (2000) compared test scores from students enrolled in Child Development courses that featured service-learning with those that did not, and found that students in the classes that used service-learning as a teaching strategy had significantly higher scores on examinations than those that did not. Knutson Miller and Yen (2005) randomly assigned students to Child Development courses that had either direct service-learning, indirect service-learning, or no service-learning and found that those in the direct service-learning condition scored significantly higher than their peers on midterm and final exams. Hart & King (2007) compared teacher candidates who had experience working with service-learning as tutors in a community center with teacher candidates with no service-learning experiences and found that the service-learning group had significantly higher scores on tests of literacy content knowledge and self-assessment of literacy and assessment skills.
Several researchers (e.g., Harwood, Fliss, & Goulding, 2006; Root, Callahan, & Sepanski, 2002; Vickers, 2007) found that when teacher candidates engage in service-learning projects, they are more likely to become sensitive to students’ developmental needs, understand the social-emotional learning that can serve to support academic learning for the students, and develop a more realistic view of the teaching profession, which in turn can help them to adjust and stay within the profession when they become teachers. Other researchers noted that teacher candidates that engage in service-learning become more culturally sensitive (Boyle-Baise, 2005; Brown & Howard, 2005) although others have found that the experience served to reinforce stereotypes (Boyle-Baise, 1998; Callahan & Root, 2003).
Service-learning was shown to be relevant for teacher education programs representing:
- all content areas (Kirtman, 2008; Meaney, Griffin, & Bohler, 2009);
- student ability levels (Jenkins & Sheeley, 2009; Novak, Murray, Scheuermann, & Curran, 2009);
- educational settings (urban, rural, and suburban) (Baldwin, Buchanan, & Rudisill, 2007); and
- types of schools (K-12, alternative schools) (Gelmon & Billig, 2007)
Benefits are most likely to accrue when the service-learning experiences are focused on applying concepts learned in teacher preparation programs, and when service activities incorporate thoughtful guided reflection (Hart & King, 2007; Kelley, Hart, & King, 2007).There are multiple tools to help leaders and faculty from teacher preparation programs to implement service-learning, and there is continuing research to identify those characteristics of teacher education that appear to moderate results. A sample of the resources available includes the following:
Bell, C., Horn, B., & Roxas, K. (2007, May). We know it's service, but what are they learning? Preservice teachers’ understandings of diversity. Equity and Excellence in Education, 40(2), 123–133.
Providing experiences that incorporated nontraditional power dynamics, out-of school contexts, and service directly connected to pedagogy were associated with greater impacts on preservice teachers’ understanding of diversity.
Davis, T., & Moely, B. (2007). Preparing pre-service teachers and meeting the diversity challenge through structured service-learning and field experiences in urban schools. In T. Townsend & R. Bates (Eds.), Handbook of teacher education: Globalization, standards and professionalism in times of change (pp. 283–300). doi:10.1007/1-4020-4773-8_19
This book offers an international review of the current status of teacher education and includes a focus on preservice preparation, successful transition into teaching, and ongoing professional development. The chapter provided a detailed description of a program and its impact on the participants.
Kaayan, S., & Gathercoal, P. (2005). Assessing service-learning in teacher education. Teacher Education Quarterly, 32(3), 79–92. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ795322.pdf
This article describes how a university uses the web tool, The ProfPort Webfolio System, to facilitate the infusion and assessment of service-learning in its teacher preparation program. The technology provides a web platform for instructor assignments, resources, student artifacts, curriculum standards, and mentor feedback. The tool also allows integrated support and mentoring for offering guidance and reflective feedback.
Lake, V., & Jones, I. (2008, November). Service-learning in early childhood teacher education: Using service to put meaning back into learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(8), 2146–2156.
The authors provided many examples of early childhood service-learning projects implemented by preservice teachers.
Lambright, K., & Lu, Y. (2009, Fall). What impacts the learning in service-learning? An examination of project structure and student characteristics. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 15(4), 425–444.
Specific aspects of teacher education programs that use service-learning have strong influences on the ability of students to reach learning objectives. These program design characteristics include course content integration with the project, student collaboration, and full-time student status.
Miller, K., Dunlap, C., & Gonzalez, A. (2007).The impact of a freshman year community-based service-learning experience on the achievement of standards articulated for teacher candidates. School Community Journal, 17(2), 111–121. Retrieved from http://www.adi.org/journal/fw07/MillerDunlapGonzalezFall2007.pdf
Findings from this report showed that freshmen university teacher candidates’ participation in community-based service-learning supported individual achievement of professional development goals pertaining to service identification and demonstration of reflection on practice. The study also revealed a need to provide candidates with an explicit description of expectations for effective collaboration with service agencies to meet student needs.
Miller, K., & Gonzalez, A. (2010). Domestic and international service learning experiences: A comparative study of pre-service teacher outcomes. Issues in Educational Research, 20(1), 29–38.
Researchers compared the impact that participating in domestic and international service-learning experiences had on preservice teachers. Analyses revealed positive outcomes for both contexts. International service-learning experiences were associated with greater positive outcomes for personal development, professional skill, and strategy development.
Root, S., Anderson, J., Callahan, P., Duckenfield, M., Hill, D., Pickeral, T., & Wade, R. (2000). Service-learning in teacher education: A handbook. Alma, MI: Alma College.
This handbook, supported by the National Service-Learning in Teacher Education Partnership, is intended to provide practical information for teacher educators to take the first steps toward integrating high-quality service-learning projects into their programs and courses.
Teacher Education Consortium in Service-Learning. (2003). Learning to serve, serving to learn: A view from higher education. Salisbury, MD: Salisbury University.
This book describes the efforts of education department faculty from three campuses to integrate service-learning into teacher preparation programs over a 3-year period. Includes four downloadable chapters:
- An Introduction to Service-Learning (Geleta & Gilliam)
http://www.servicelearning.org/filemanager/download/111/TECSL Chap 1.pdf
- Curriculum Integration
http://www.servicelearning.org/filemanager/download/112/TECSL Chap 2 .pdf
- Teacher Education Service-Learning Assessment (Ball)<
http://www.servicelearning.org/filemanager/download/113/TECSL Chap 3.pdf
- Learning in the Context Of Service: Concluding Thoughts and Resources (Robeck, Laster, Jenne, & Brooks)
http://www.servicelearning.org/filemanager/download/114/TECSL Chap 4.pdf
Wasserman, K. B. (2009, November). The role of service-learning in transforming teacher candidates. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(8), 1043–1050. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.04.001
Research demonstrated that integrating service-learning into literacy courses was associated with significant gains in preservice teachers’ self-efficacy, which in turn, resulted in better delivery of course content during student teaching.
The California State University Service-Learning in Teacher Education Programs http://www.calstate.edu/cce/initiatives/servlearn_teacher.shtml
This website features a service-learning online course, information on books available to support classroom implementation, and links to other resources.
Campus Compact Discipline Specific Syllabi (Education) http://www.compact.org/initiatives/syllabi/
This section of the Campus Compact website provides over 300 syllabi that include service-learning as a teaching methodology in a wide variety of disciplines in higher education. Click on education for syllabi specific to teacher education.
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network: Linking Learning with Life Series
This website has several resources that may be ordered online ($6.00 each): Developing leadership in faculty and students: The power of service-learning in teacher education; Service-learning and teacher education; Tips for use in teacher education.
National Service-Learning Partnership: Service-Learning in Teacher Education Programs
This website provides a list of 26 teacher education programs in the United States that offer preservice service-learning programs, training, and curricula.
Anderson, J. B., & Erickson, J. A. (2003, Summer). Service-learning in preservice teacher education. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 7(2), 111–115.
Baldwin, S. C., Buchanan, A. M., & Rudisill, M. E. (2007). What teacher candidates learned about diversity, social justice, and themselves from service learning experiences. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(4), 315–317.
Boyle-Baise, M. (1998). Community service-learning for multicultural education: An exploratory study with pre-service teachers. Equity and Excellence in Education, 31(2), 52–61.
Boyle-Baise, M. (2005). Preparing community-oriented teachers: Reflections from a multicultural service learning project. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(5), 446–458.
Brown, E., & Howard, B. (2005). Becoming culturally responsive teachers through service-learning. Multicultural Education, 12(4), 2–8. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ727793.pdf
Callahan, J., & Root, S. (2003). The diffusion of academic service-learning in teacher education: A case study approach. In S. H. Billig & J. Eyler (Eds.), Advances in service-learning research: Vol. 3. Deconstructing service-learning: Research exploring context, participation, and impacts (pp. 77–101). Greenwich, CT: Information Age.
Furco, A., & Ammon, M. S. (2000). Service-learning in California’s teacher education programs: A white paper. Berkeley: University of California, Service-Learning Research and Development Center.
Gelmon, S. B., & Billig, S. H. (2007). From passion to objectivity: International and cross-disciplinary perspectives on service-learning research. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
Hart, S. M., & King, J. R. (2007). Service learning and literacy tutoring: Academic impact on preservice teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 323–338.
Harwood, A., Fliss, D., & Goulding, E. (2006). Impacts of a service-learning seminar and practicum on pre-service teachers’ understanding of pedagogy, community, and themselves. In K. M. Casey, G. Davidson, S. H. Billig, & N. C. Springer, N. (Eds.), Advances in service-learning research: Vol. 6. Advancing knowledge in service-learning: Research to transform the field. Greenwich, CT: Information Age.
Jenkins, A., & Sheehey, P. (2009, Summer). Implementing service-learning in special education coursework: What we learned. Education, 129(4), 668–682. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3673/is_4_129/ai_n31948147/
Kelley, K. S., Hart, S., & King, J. R. (2007). Negotiating pedagogy development: Learning to teach writing in a service-learning context. Action in Teacher Education, 29(2), 94–108.
Kirtman, L. (2008, March). Pre-service teachers and mathematics: The impact of service-learning on teacher preparation. School Science and Mathematics, 108(3), 94–102.
Knutson Miller, K., & Yen, S. (2005). Group differences in academic achievement: Service-learning in a child psychology course. Teaching of Psychology, 32(1), 56–58.
Meaney, K., Griffin, K., & Bohler, H. (2009). Service-learning: A venue for enhancing pre-service educators’ knowledge base for teaching. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(2), 1–17. Retrieved from http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/ijsotl/v3n2/articles/PDFs/Article_MeaneyGriffinBohler.pdf
Novak, J., Murray, M., Scheuermann, A., & Curran, E. (2009). Enhancing the preparation of special educators through service learning: Evidence from two preservice courses. International Journal of Special Education, 24(1), 32–44. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ842117.pdf
Root, S., Callahan, J., & Sepanski, J. (2002). Service-learning in teacher education: A multisite study. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, New York, NY.
Strage, A. A. (2000). Service learning: Enhancing student learning outcomes in a college-level lecture course. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 7, 5–13.
Vickers, M. (2007). Reversing the lens: Transforming teacher education through service-learning. In S. B. Gelmon & S. H. Billig (Eds.), From passion to objectivity: International and cross-disciplinary perspectives on service-learning research. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
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