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ERIC Number: ED529552
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 225
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1246-1755-8
Service Learning: High School Social Studies Students "Building Bridges" to the Community
Cranford, Sara L.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia
This case study examined the relationships between the programmatic features of service learning and student willingness to participate in and development during a service learning opportunity in the secondary, Social Studies classroom. The sample included two sections of Advanced Placement Psychology which consisted of 58 junior and senior students. Data in the form of field and classroom observations, student interviews, and documents (motivational questionnaires and reflective journals), were collected over the course of one semester. Data analysis revealed an initial attraction to service learning, as opposed to a traditional research paper and presentation, by the vast majority of students. Of the students who completed the volunteer hours, they generally described their experiences as enjoyable and fulfilling. Their was a strong relationship between how fulfilling they found these opportunities to be and their own perceived benefit to the people among whom they served. Students did not enjoy busy work, administrative tasks, or socially isolating experiences because they did not see that it was helpful to other people. It was critical for students to feel that their time was well spent. The data revealed that students who completed the volunteer hours felt strongly that it helped them to practice and/or develop several inter and intra personal qualities including: patience, gratitude, confidence to overcome one's fears, social skills, appreciation for diversity, career direction, and overall self-esteem. Students felt that the volunteer experiences also reinforced the academic curriculum and the reflective journal and guided questions especially afforded them opportunities to ponder and analyze their experiences in light of the content. Finally, students who completed the service learning program offered valuable logistical advice including their strong preference for interactive/meaningful work and for student choice and scheduling flexibility. The data from students who chose not to do the service learning but instead selected the traditional research paper also revealed important themes. While some of these students found service learning appealing, they ultimately chose the paper for logistical and personal reasons. Many had a particular topic they were especially interested in researching. Others described balancing incredibly busy personal schedules and felt the paper would be a more realistic option. Finally, others described themselves as more shy and reserved and they did not want to do a project that would bring them out of their comfort zone and force them to interact with others. They preferred a more comfortable, familiar project. These students also placed a high premium on student choice and autonomy. Overall, the findings of this study offer interesting contributions to several ongoing scholarly discussions in the field of service learning. In a holistic sense, this study supports service learning as a viable pedagogy and one that most students are attracted to as a welcome alternative to traditional school assignments. In a more pragmatic vein, these findings are valuable to classroom teachers who desire to establish successful service learning programs. [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:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A