Using Action Research to Promote Meaningful E-Service-Learning Experience for Preservice Teachers

Using Action Research to Promote Meaningful E-Service-Learning Experience for Preservice Teachers

Svetlana Chesser, Kate Durham, Elena Aydarova
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6922-1.ch003
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Research on service-learning has documented the importance of relationships and meaningful community connections for preservice teachers' development. What remains less explored is the opportunities and challenges provided by e-service learning integrated into teacher preparation coursework. In this study, the authors utilize action research methodology to explore how preservice teachers engaged in e-service learning during the move towards remote instruction in the summer of 2020. Drawing on the analysis of students' weekly journals, final reflections, and the survey of stakeholders, they examine how e-service-learning created opportunities for students to feel connected to the community during the time of social isolation and be motivated by their ability to make an impact on children's interest in learning STEM content. The challenges emerged out of a disconnect between course content and some of the e-service learning assignments. This study's implications include better integration of e-service learning into teacher education courses.
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In the last few decades, institutions of higher education embraced a form of experiential learning called service-learning, a reflective relational pedagogy that combines community or public service with structured opportunities for learning that allows learning by doing, and connects theory with practice (Heffernan, 2001). Based on John Dewey’s (1938) notion of experiential education, service-learning engages students in events that address human and community needs. It also provides them with opportunities to participate in activities designed to promote their learning and development (Strait & Sauer, 2004). What distinguishes service-learning from other approaches to experiential education is its focus on both the service being provided and the learning that is occurring. Typically, service-learning integrates service into the course and is supposed to ensure that the service enhances the learning, and the learning enhances the service (Furco, 2003). For example, students in teacher preparation programs in courses such as Adolescents or Child Development were expected to apply the theories and skills learned in these courses while working with children and teenagers in various educational settings. While the service-learning is intended to provide a much-needed service to children and adolescents, it is also intended to help preservice teachers better understand how development affects learning and provides an opportunity to put into practice theoretical ideas learned in class.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Community-Based Participation: An involvement of people in the community to get the maximum benefit for the whole society.

Preservice Teacher: A college student who is enrolled in a teacher preparation program and working toward teacher certification.

E-Service Learning: Occurs when the instructional component of the course, the service component, or both are conducted online.

Teacher Education: Any formal program that have been established for the preparation of teachers at the elementary and secondary-school levels.

Community Partner: A nonprofit organization, public agency, government office, school, and certain private business where students provide community service as an integral part of their academic courses.

Service-Learning: A flexible pedagogy organized around learning goals that provides meaningful service activities that address real community needs.

Action Research: A disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action in order to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.

Reflection: A key component of service-learning; the intentional consideration of an experience in light of particular learning objectives.

Online Learning: An acquisition of knowledge which takes place through electronic technologies and media.

Experiential Education: A student-focused approach that engages learner in the application of theory and academic content to real-world experiences, either within the classroom, within the community, or within the workplace.

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