Exploring the Impact of Service-Learning on Literacy Teachers' Self-Reported Empathy

Exploring the Impact of Service-Learning on Literacy Teachers' Self-Reported Empathy

Leah Katherine Saal (Loyola University Maryland, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4041-0.ch021

Abstract

Although (1) literacy teacher education research and professional practice standards highlight the significance of empathy as a central tenant of teachers' professional dispositions, and (2) developing deeper and more empathetic understanding of others is a frequently cited rationale for utilizing service-learning as a critical pedagogy for in-service and pre-service teacher preparation, little quantitative research exists measuring in-service teachers' empathy or empathy development. The purpose of this chapter is to explore how a course-embedded, self-selected, and community-based service-learning experience effected participating literacy teachers' self-reported empathy. While participants scores increased in the pre-post condition, results of a paired sample t-test indicated no significant difference in teachers' self-reported empathy across the pre-post condition. Implications for practice and program administration as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.
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Literature Review

Investigating the impact of service-learning on in-service teachers’ self-reported empathy holds particular promise. Understanding how teachers at the forefront of demographic shifts in education internalize the perceptions and differing world views of the students in their classrooms is imperative.

Key Terms in this Chapter

In-Service Teacher Education: Professional development or continuing education for adults who are already in a full-time teaching role in K-12 schools or community education. Frequently, this involves an additional or “add on” certification program or post-graduate (Master’s) educational program.

Linguicism: The unfair treatment of a person or discrimination based on one’s language.

Empathy: The term derives from the Greek word empatheia ( em - “in” and pathos “feeling”). Here the term refers to the capacity to understand the effect of loved ones and outsiders alike.

Service-Learning: Incorporates both learning and service in mutually beneficial partnerships and is inclusive of meaningful reflection that integrates the service experiences with the course material.

Teacher Dispositions: The professional comportments and ontological perspectives of educators. Of particular interest is how the dispositions of teachers’ impact their pedagogical acumen, ability to collaborate with colleagues, and, correspondingly, the educational environment of their placement.

Language Ideologies: The beliefs, feelings, or characteristics of language embedded within the context of social worlds.

Critical Pedagogy: Grounded in the work of Paulo Freire, this philosophy and social movement applies components of critical theory to education. Specifically, the term is encompassing of the belief that teaching and learning are inherently political acts which foster or impede social justice and democracy.

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