“This article was published in Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol 25 number 8, Author: Kathleen B. Wasserman, "The Role of Service-Learning in Transforming Teacher Candidates' Teaching of Reading", Pages 1043-1050, Copyright Elsevier (November 2009)”.
Most reading methods courses taught in the United States do little to change student teachers' actual classroom instruction because new pedagogies are not practiced in a structured, supportive, closely supervised manner. This lack of practice results in failure to develop strong feelings of self-efficacy during university courses. Because literacy courses fail to help preservice teachers think differently about literacy development, beginning teachers continue to perpetuate decades old methods of teaching young children how to read and write. These ‘business as usual’ pedagogies are especially dangerous for at risk learners.
This study compared two literacy courses for elementary teacher candidates taught by the same professor at the same university with variables held constant with one exception. Course One incorporated a service-learning component as an integral part of the instructional process.
During Course Two, the teacher candidates taught sample lessons to their classmates.
It was hypothesized that teacher candidates who practiced new pedagogies with children at a designated low performing, highly diverse elementary school (Course One—Service-learning) during a highly structured service-learning experience would develop more self-efficacy and, therefore, demonstrate greater implementation of the course content than those who role played their practice (Course Two—Practice with Peers).
Results document that incorporating service-learning into a well developed literacy course dramatically increased the self-efficacy of the participants by the conclusion of the course. This, in turn, led to increased implementation of course content during the remainder of their student teaching experience.