Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Second Advisor

Bruce A. Closser

Third Advisor

Douglas Jones

Abstract

Problem. Over the last 15 years, service-learning in first-year composition has emerged as a critical area of study. Service-learning in composition places students in writing environments within the community, encourages reading and writing about social issues, and provides the opportunity for students to participate in community projects. A significant problem with this approach is the alignment between outcomes of the discipline and those of service. Practitioners feel that a clear understanding of compatibility between the two areas of study would result in better practice and further buy-in by those who do not teach from a service-learning perspective.

Method. In service-learning literature, limited research exists to show how alignment takes place between content and service outcomes. Thus, this study sought to gather information about faculty perceptions of teacher success in aligning content and service outcomes in order to add to the body of knowledge available. An objectives-oriented program evaluation employing the use of a mixed-methods research design was used. Data were collected via a survey, interviews, and document analysis. The data collection process was divided into two phases. Phase one collected data via a survey developed from items on the Teaching Goals Inventory and the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition. Phase two relied on interviews with service-learning faculty, and analysis of course syllabi.

Results. Participants responding to both the survey and interviews perceived themselves as being successful at integrating service-learning with composition. However, participants did not feel that alignment of outcomes was necessary, given that content and service outcomes were addressed on a case-by-case basis. Participants with 3 years or less of teaching experience at their current institutions perceived themselves to be less successful at balancing the demands of the content area and service. However, respondents reported that balance was achieved by learning to shift the emphasis onto content and/or service outcomes as the situation required. Course syllabi did not support an integrated or aligned articulation of content and service requirements. The results suggest that alignment of content and service outcomes may not be as realistic a goal as learning how to effectively address content and service-related problems as they arise.

Subject Area

Service learning, English language--Composition and exercises--Study and teaching

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