Can Service Learning Reinforce Social and Cultural Bias? Exploring a Popular Model of Family Involvement for Early Childhood Teacher Candidates

Jan. 10, 2010

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 31, Issue 1 (January 2010), pages 37 – 48.

Service learning is often used in teacher education as a way to challenge social bias and provide teacher candidates with skills needed to work in partnership with diverse families. Although some literature suggests that service learning could reinforce cultural bias, there is little documentation.

In this study, 21 early childhood teacher certification candidates engaged in service learning experience with families living in deep poverty.

16 candidates appeared to confront their own biases and construct practical theories of poverty that were more complex than their original concepts.

However, five candidates appeared to avoid confronting their own biases.
Of those five, three appeared to have biases confirmed. Those three candidates were quite different from one another in age, experience, and attitude toward the project.

More research is needed to examine the relationship between candidates' understanding of social relationships and their approach to service learning experiences.

Updated: Sep. 05, 2010