Factors that facilitate and hinder service-learning implementation
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This qualitative study investigated factors that facilitate and hinder service-learning implementation for novice and veteran teachers. It also investigated a service-learning course designed to teach the theory behind service learning and give pre-service and in-service teachers an experience working with it. The investigation focused specifically on how the course influenced implementation of service learning in elementary and middle school classrooms. Case studies of three novice teachers and three veteran teachers were conducted and a cross case analysis was conducted within and across the groups. The primary source of data collection occurred through interviews and the secondary sources included artifacts and a questionnaire. Findings from the study indicate that there are many factors that facilitate implementation of service learning as well as hinder it for novice and veteran teachers. Findings also indicate that novice and veteran teachers have differing needs when it comes to learning about and implementing service learning. Because of their limited knowledge and experience with teaching, novice teachers need more direct instruction on implementation than veteran teachers. When attempting to implement service learning, novice teachers are often overwhelmed by the demands of being a beginning teacher, while veteran teachers are more able to focus on atypical pedagogical strategies and make them successful in their classroom. An investigation of the service-learning course revealed four points to consider when organizing a course that offers students an opportunity to participate in a project of their choice. The most influential factor contributing to a program’s success is the course instructor. A course instructor must have knowledge of, enthusiasm for, and a belief in service learning. A second consideration focused on individualizing the course according to the interests of the students by establishing a democratic classroom. Third, students benefit from working in an atmosphere that is positive where they feel support and guidance while conducting their service-learning project. A final consideration revealed the benefit of students implementing their service-learning project into a classroom setting with a group of students.