Lessons Learned From 15 Years of Service-Learning: Implications for Practice for Teacher Education Programs

Lessons Learned From 15 Years of Service-Learning: Implications for Practice for Teacher Education Programs

Lori Simons (Widener University, USA), Lawrence Fehr (Widener University, USA) and Lake Greene (Widener University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4041-0.ch002
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This chapter describes lessons learned from students involved in a service-learning program in an urban school district during the past 15 years. A total of 729 undergraduate students enrolled in an educational psychology course took part in the study. Students completed a survey at the beginning and end of the course. The findings indicate that academic-based service-learning and cultural-based service-learning contribute to different learning outcomes. Academic-based service-learners develop intercultural relationships with service recipients and community partners and acquire an understanding of social disparities in the community while cultural-based service-learners develop interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Students also appeared to make meaning out of their diverse service experiences and acquired a deeper understanding about how social responsibility is part of their role as preservice teachers in their school community. Implications for incorporating CBSL strategies in a teacher education program are discussed.
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Service-Learning As A Culturally-Responsive Pedagogy

Service-learning initiatives are frequently integrated into teacher education programs to prepare preservice teachers for work with students from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups in early, elementary and secondary school settings (Glazier, Arble, Charpentier, 2014; Hampshire, Havercroft, Luy, and Call, 2015; Hildenbrand & Schultz, 2015; Holt, 2017). In the United States, most preservice teachers are from White, middle-class backgrounds and work with a diverse student population (Glazier et al, 2014; Kilgo, 2015). The student population is expected to become more diverse with increases in students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds (Glazier et al, 2014; Kilgo, 2015; Tinkler, Hannah, & Tinkle, 2016; U.S. Department of Education, 2016). Preservice teachers are likely to bring their own assumptions into the classroom (Barnes, 2016; Tinker, Hannah, & Tinkler, 2016). Therefore, it is critical that preservice teachers learn culturally-responsive pedagogical practices. Teacher education programs integrate service-learning in undergraduate courses to challenge preservice teachers’ assumptions by illuminating the racial and economic disparities in the community (Mitchell, 2010).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Academic-Based Service-Learning (ABSL): A pedagogy in which academic study is combined with community service.

Service Recipients: The children who are paired with students in a service-learning project.

Student Learning: Observable changes in student knowledge, attitudes, and skills.

Cultural-Based Service-Learning: An extension of ABSL in which the diversity material is integrated in the course content and service context.

Quality of the Course and Placement Site: Characteristics that foster student learning such as reflection.

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