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ERIC Number: ED494939
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Apr
Pages: 7
Abstractor: Author
Service Learning: Building Commitment to Becoming Teachers
Bleicher, Robert E.; Correia, Manuel G.; Buchanan, Merilyn
Online Submission, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, Apr 2006)
Background: The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an early field experience program for undergraduate university students called classroom tutors in this project (CTs). Purpose: This study aims to measure the effects on CTs after their participation in Willing Workers in Classrooms (WWC). A second aim was to begin to develop a model for service learning specific to the needs of a bilingual school and university. Setting: The study took place at two elementary schools with a formal agreement to implement a service-learning project at the schools involving a total of 400 elementary students. Study Sample: Study participants included 40 university students (CTs) and 20 classroom teachers. Teams were formed including the classroom teacher, two university undergraduate classroom tutors (CTs), and a university supervisor (authors). Intervention: Teams provided instruction in classrooms one morning each week from 7.45 to 11 am over a 13 week period. Immediately following the classroom experience, all CTs and the university supervisor met in the professional development room on the school site to discuss their experiences. Research Design: Descriptive; Qualitative. Data Collection and Analysis: Participants kept reflective journals throughout the study. Weekly entries were made electronically through a journal portal tool on Blackboard, a web-based course management system. Post data sources included CT self-assessment of their participation, Classroom Teacher evaluations of the CTs and the CTs feedback about the strengths and areas needing improvement in the service learning project. Other data sources included CT electronic portfolios and philosophy of education statements, supervisors' observations and fieldnotes of classroom activities involving CTs and elementary students, as well as some digital photos. Grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1997) techniques were used to negotiate meaning and develop explanatory models. Findings: Working in teams increased collegial support and resulted in increased confidence of CTs to both share their classroom experiences and to engage for effectively with elementary students. Reflections focused on verbal and written discourse, improving CTs tutoring practices and elementary student learning. Elementary student verbal responses and written work were important evidence to CTs that their teaching was making a difference to student learning. In addition, evidence of students' trust in CTs became a very important motivational element in their expressed desires to pursue a teaching career. Conclusion: Due to this study, strategies have been developed to improve the service learning project for the next year of the project that can lead to a sustainable service learning approach to the early field experience course. These strategies include: (a) continuing CTs working in pairs in the classroom; (b) lengthening meeting time immediately after the experience to reflect, discuss, and collaborate; (c) holding regular meetings with the principal, teachers and university supervisor to discuss and modify the project in progress; and (d) encouraging parental involvement in the project.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Elementary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A