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DOI

10.14221/ajte.2012v37n4.2

Abstract

There is recognition that involvement in service-learning can impact positively on the development of pre-service teachers professionally, culturally and academically (Billig & Freeman, 2010; Anderson, 1998). This article explores and describes the experiences of pre-service teachers in the School of Education at the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA) who are undertaking two service learning units as part of their teacher education. This research is based on qualitative data collected from pre-service teachers on completion of their service learning units. Initially, service-learning as a concept is explored with particular reference to four basic elements identified in the literature (Jacoby, 1996; Kaye, 2004; Schoenfield, 2006; Scott, 2006). These elements are: the service addresses real life needs, the service and learning goals are of equal importance, there is reciprocity between those serving and those being served, and the program is clearly structured for participants. The two specific service-learning units in the School of Education are then outlined. A reflective journal and a written report provide the data for the study. Discourse analysis employing a symbolic interactionist lens was utilised to determine themes within the data. Six themes emerged which detailed the experiences and reflections of the pre-service teachers. These themes are: empathy, leadership, self and societal reflection, confidence, professional practice, and knowledge and skills. These themes serve to illustrate the potential importance and value of the incorporation of service learning experiences in pre-service teacher programs.

Link to publisher version (DOI)

10.14221/ajte.2012v37n4.2