Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility in Physical Education Teacher Education: A Service-Learning Application

Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility in Physical Education Teacher Education: A Service-Learning Application

K. Andrew R. Richards (The University of Alabama, USA), Victoria Nicole Ivy (The University of Alabama, USA), Michael A. Lawson (The University of Alabama, USA) and Tania Alameda-Lawson (The University of Alabama, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4041-0.ch008


Service-learning has gained popularity in physical education programs as a way to prepare pre-service teachers to work with culturally diverse students. The chapter contributes to this growing movement developing a conceptual framework for the development of a service-learning program fit to meet (a) the learning needs of low-income children and families; (b) the education, training, and socialization needs of preservice teachers; and (c) the design requirements of best practice interventions. A research- and theory-driven application of service-learning through the teaching personal and social responsibility pedagogical model is overviewed in reference to one physical education teacher education program. Lessons learned from the implementation of this model are discussed, as are implications for practice. Improvement science is offered a methodology that can help researchers develop the responsiveness of these initiatives while also furthering the research base of the field.
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Service-learning (SL) initiatives have been defined as a “form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development” (Jacoby, 1996, p. 5). In the helping professions of education (Anderson, Swick, & Yff, 2001), and physical education (Carson & Raguse, 2014), SL has become a strategy for helping to address needs within community environments while also providing college students opportunities to practice using professional skills in real-world environments (Bringle & Hatcher, 1996). Further, SL helps to address the civic education mission espoused at many contemporary universities by helping students develop ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement (Levesque-Bristol & Richards, 2014)

While many teacher education programs include field-based and experiential learning experiences to help students practice using teaching strategies and pedagogies in classroom environments, SL can be differentiated from these practices in that it places a particular focus on service-oriented outcomes such as volunteerism and community engagement (Carson & Raguse, 2014). Appropriately designed SL programs in teacher education, therefore, have the potential to address community needs through relevant and meaningful service while also helping preservice teachers develop contextualized, action-oriented theories for working with vulnerable youth, including those situated in communities characterized by poverty (Domangue & Carson, 2008)

With these key goals in mind, the authors designed a year-long SL initiative in a local elementary school with a diverse demographic and over 85% participation in the free and reduced lunch program. The SL program, referred to here as Teaching Opportunities to Promote Service (TOPS), includes inservice teachers, families and community members, school administrators, a local non-profit organization, and graduate students and faculty members from the College of Education and School of Social Work (see M. A. Lawson, Alameda-Lawson, & Richards, 2016 for a complete overview of the partnership). The primary purpose of the collaboration is to support children’s learning and development during out-of-school time.

Preservice physical education (PE) teachers participate in the program and are trained to deliver a best practice pedagogical model called Teacher Personal and Social Responsibility (TPSR; Hellison, 2011). This particular model helps youth develop personal (e.g., participation, self-direction) and social (e.g., respect, leadership) skills that children from communities affected by poverty often need to cope with some of the challenges inherent to their daily lives (e.g., gang violence, fluid and unpredictable family structure). The authors saw the TPSR model as an opportunity to address two interrelated problems of practice. First, there is a shortage of professionals to address the needs of communities affected by poverty. Universities and their teacher education programs, therefore, have a social responsibility to support the needs of their surrounding schools and neighborhoods (Ladson-Billings, 2000). Second, there are needs for preservice teachers to develop pedagogical skills in diverse “real-world” practice settings.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dialectics of Socialization: The belief that individuals have a sense of agency that allows them to covertly or overtly resist the influence of socializing agents, resulting in an exchange in which both the individual and social institution a subject to change.

Transfer of Learning: The application of lessons learned in one setting to other similar and dissimilar settings, which is the ultimate goal of the teaching personal and social responsibility model.

Reading Pedagogical Models as Text: The notion that individuals tend to interpret and implement pedagogical models different based on prior socialization and receptivity to the major tenets of the model.

Acculturation: The first phase of occupational socialization during which individuals for initial impressions of what it means to be a physical educator by observing and interacting with their own teachers and coaches as children in school environments.

Improvement Science: An alternative to the research, development, dissemination, and utilization (RDDU) framework that focuses on the nexus between theoretical knowledge and practical/profound knowledge.

Professional Socialization: Formal preparation for the role of physical education teacher that typically occurs in a university environment.

Occupational Socialization Theory: A dialectical theory of socialization into physical education that focuses on recruitment into, training for, and ongoing socialization in school contexts.

Subjective Theories of Practice: Individual cognitive structures that are developed through socialization, are relatively stable and resistant to change, and help to explain individual behavior.

Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility: An application of sport-based youth development that focuses on teaching life skills in physical education and physical activity environments.

Implementation Fidelity: The extent to which a pedagogical model is implemented as intended by the model’s developers.

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