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ERIC Number: ED517726
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 157
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-8037-6
A Case Study Examining Critical Thinking in an Elementary Service-Learning Project
Legant, Laura M.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Walden University
Service-learning is a teaching strategy used to engage students in organized service while enhancing academic curriculum. Service-learning is often employed to encourage the development of reflective and critical thinking skills. What was not known is the specific evidence of critical thinking that students may exhibit in the context of an elementary level service-learning project. The purpose of this case study was to describe the experience of elementary students participating in a service-learning project. This study was conducted to uncover whether critical thinking was evident in a service-learning project and, if so, to describe the critical thinking. Critical thinking was defined as seeking clarity, comparing and contrasting, and evaluating options. Over a 6-week period, third-grade students created magazines about their school nature trail to help other students learn about the Earth. The researcher collected data through observations, focus groups, teacher interviews, and a review of students' reflection journals. Participants were invited to review the data for accuracy. Data were analyzed using open coding, axial coding, and selective coding of data. The central phenomenon investigated was the experience of students engaged in service-learning reflection activities. The research focused on examples of critical thinking and themes that emerged in the project. The themes identified were students' authentic decision making in a variety of contexts and their communication skills, learning dispositions, creativity, and focus on service in their decision making. The implications for positive social change include a potential to inform future research, curriculum design, and further development and growth of service-learning projects. This study also offers suggestions for further research about the impact of authenticity and collaboration on critical thinking as well as the impact of interpersonal and intrapersonal decisions. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 3
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A