Academic Service-Learning as a Pedagogical Tool and Strategy: Promoting Critical Thinking among Pre-Service Teachers

Academic Service-Learning as a Pedagogical Tool and Strategy: Promoting Critical Thinking among Pre-Service Teachers

Estanislado S. Barrera, IV (Louisiana State University, USA) and Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell (Louisiana State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8411-9.ch008
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This chapter presents academic service-learning (AS-L) as a pedagogical tool and strategy for promoting critical thinking among pre-service teachers. The results of the two cases discussed reveal that many well-intentioned young education majors' frames of reference about urban education indicate a dissonance of experience. Public urban education in the US is becoming increasingly stratified with teachers representing White, female, middle income backgrounds and resultant perspectives, but public school children in the United States represent families of color and communities that are predominantly poor. AS-L truly promotes critical thinking about teaching and learning, especially when the tensions surrounding difference surface. Findings indicate that pre-service teachers must first overcome bias, negative expectations, and stereotypes before they synthesize the elements of the instructional process that leads to achieving reflective praxis.
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Theoretical Framework

For the purpose of this study, we turned to Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory to guide our research. Building on Dewey’s (1910, 1916, 1933) work, Kolb’s (1984) model outlines how learning involves the translation of experiences through the process of reflection into understanding, which is then applied through active experimentation in the form of new experiences (See Figure 1). Zuber-Skerritt (1992), found it to be a “comprehensive theory which offers the foundation for an approach to education and learning as a lifelong process and which is soundly based in intellectual traditions of philosophy and cognitive and social psychology” (p. 98). Highlighting the significance of reflection, Anderson and Adams (1992) supported that Kolb’s theory “is rooted in a theory of learning that affirms all major aspects of active learning, usefully accounting for an array of individual and culturally derived differences” (p. 25).

Figure 1.

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Process.


Key Terms in this Chapter

Field Experiences: Field experiences, a critical aspect of the teacher preparation process, provide teacher education candidates with supervised real-time teaching practice.

Pedagogy: Pedagogy is defines as the function and/or work of a teacher, it is the art and science of teaching, and often refers to instructional methods.

Case Studies: A case study is a qualitative research design, an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within real-life context.

Pre-Service Teachers (PST): Pre-service teachers are teacher education candidates who have completed all undergraduate core courses and have been admitted to a teacher education program wherein coursework and field experiences are sequentially structured and lead to final student teaching internship.

Academic-Service-Learning (AS-L): Academic-Service-Learning is a pedagogical tool and strategy. Service-learning addresses critical community needs, builds student leadership skills, and reinforces course content. Its academic context inside a classroom enriches students' service experiences by raising questions about real-world concerns and promoting critical thinking about civic responsibility.

Urban Education: Urban education refers to the specific situations, factors, elements, and unique demands that characterize teaching and learning in large metropolitan areas.

Reflection: Reflection is the act of thinking about personal involvement in an event including what action will be taken in future similar situations.

Professional Practice: Professional practice refers to specific teaching courses that are part of a sequence of courses designed to prepare teacher education candidates to teach.

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