Model Project: “Developing teachers through service-learning in after school and community based learning environments project.”

IECE Final Report

Educational Psychology Service Learning –Susan Jurow, Ben Kirshner, and Kris Gutiérrez

June 2011

Over the past year, we implemented and expanded the service learning model that we have developed in relation to our two Educational Psychology courses. Using IECE funds, we hired a graduate student to work 10 hours a week in the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 to help facilitate site placements, conduct research on student engagement in select sections of the Educational Psychology courses, lead class discussions, and contribute to the design of the courses. We also added a faculty member (Kevin O'Connor) to our team and developed our own community-based site for our students to attend as part of the elementary educational psychology course. The site, El Pueblo Mágico (EPM) is modeled after Professor Gutierrez's work at UCLA on a similar program (Las Redes) which she ran for 15 years. EPM was used as both the sole-site and as a choice among multiple sites in various instantiations of the service-learning course. Based on this year's work on the implementation of the model, we have made the following progress in regards to teaching the courses and studying their impact on student learning.

Course Implementation

The service learning model that we developed for our undergraduate educational psychology courses was implemented in 6 courses during the 2010-2011 academic year; in total, we served 166 undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students. Along with Jurow and Gutiérrez, Kevin O'Connor, Rita Tracy (doctoral student), and Michelle Drummond (doctoral student) ran sections of 4411 and 4112 in which students participated once a week at a community-based afterschool site and used their experiences to enhance their understanding of course concepts. The specific implementation of the courses took two main forms as noted above: the El Pueblo Mágico (EPM) version and the multiple sites version. In the EPM version, all of the undergraduate students in the elementary educational psychology course (4411) attended El Pueblo Mágico afterschool club at Sanchez Elementary School. The club was purposefully-designed by Gutiérrez and her research team based on the sociocultural theories that form the foundation of the readings in 4411. The club is structured so that children learn through open-ended games and projects. Technology and science are focal to these activities. In the multiple sites version of the elementary and secondary-focused educational psychology courses, undergraduate students attended one of a set of sites (including EPM, Family Learning Center, Casa de la Esperanza, and I have a dream) for their service learning experience throughout the semester. Despite the differences in student placement, teaching the undergraduate courses in accordance with a common service learning approach has benefited our program in that it has facilitated productive conversations among faculty and graduate student instructors about the place of educational psychology in teacher preparation programs. Issues we have collectively considered include: What are the benefits of the different versions of implementing service learning in the undergraduate educational psychology courses? What kinds of resources do we need to productively run each version of the courses? How can we use graduate students and undergraduate alumni from our courses as teaching/research assistants? How can we teach in line with what we believe is best for our students without creating a burdensome teaching load?

This year, with funds from IECE and other university resources, we had a total of five doctoral students assisting in running the courses. Three teaching assistants were employed each semester in the EPM sections of the 4411 course. The teaching assistants' primary responsibilities were to assist in the grading of student fieldnotes (6-8 fieldnotes per student), develop lessons linking coursework and students' site experiences, conduct research on EPM, and participate in the development of the afterschool club. Two doctoral students, one each semester, served as site coordinators for the multiple sites versions of 4411 and 4112. As site coordinators, the doctoral students' main responsibilities revolved around placing undergraduates at their service learning sites, visiting the sites during the semester, and attending class on occasion to facilitate connections between site and course experiences. The doctoral students' assistance was valuable in providing detailed feedback on students' analytic reflections on their site experiences, developing and maintaining connections with our community-based sites, and for providing extra help in the classroom in regards to helping the undergraduates make links between theory and practice.

Evaluation of the Courses

This year, a total of six sections of the redesigned educational psychology course for pre-service teachers (4 sections of 4411 & 2 sections of 4112) were taught. These courses combined placed a total of 166 students in semester-long service learning placements at a variety of community-based organizations (including our new EPM site) in Boulder County. This number almost doubles our last year's placement of 85 undergraduates. Analysis of data collected in these courses reveals that the students both value and benefit from the service-learning component of the program. For example, in an interview at the end of the Fall semester, a student that had previously taken the course without the service-learning component said, "I really liked it with the service learning. I feel like it was mainly a theories class but it is really a lot easier to connect what we were learning to application". Another student said, "I really like how what we talk about in class is directly tied to my experience at the field site". In addition to the student perception of the service-learning as valuable, they also discussed their site experiences in ways that drew on the concepts taught in the course. For example, in explaining the process that one child took in approaching an essay about Hawaii, one undergraduate drew on Vygotsky, a major theorist discussed in the course, and explained:

"I mean right now I could look at it from Vygotsky and say like ZPD. I mean he was sort of in his outer region at first and just sort-of was uncomfortable. He didn't know that he was capable of doing what he was supposed ta do and so his partner asked me to help him and then I helped him an then he was like, I don't really need as much help as I think she's giving me".

These perspectives and use of course constructs by the undergraduate students show that the redesign and inclusion of service-learning as a component of the educational psychology courses is valued by the students and beneficial to their continued learning.

Another useful heuristic in measuring the success of the course can be found in FCQs. Though these cannot capture the value of the service-learning component to student learning, they do reveal the overarching beliefs of the students as to the relevance of the course to their studies. FCQs for this year are summarized below.

Fall 2010

Forms returned

Course

Instructor

EDUC 4411 – Jurow

20 of 30

5.3

5.9

EDUC 4411 – Gutierrez

20 of 27

4.4

4.4

EDUC 4112 – Tracy

25 of 27

5.2

5.4

Spring 2011

Forms returned

Course

Instructor

EDUC 4411 – Jurow

22 of 30

4.6

5.1

EDUC 4411 – O'Connor

30 of 33

4.4

4.3

EDUC 4112 – Drummond

16 of 19

5.1

5.8

Overall, FCQ data reveal that the students are generally satisfied with the instruction they receive in the course and the quality of their instructors; consistently rating each above a 4 on a 6 point scale. Investigation into the courses in which the instructor and course were rated relatively lower (4.5 or below) revealed that these courses had significantly more student work associated with them and were taught by instructors new to our program. The unfamiliarity between the instructors and CU students may have contributed to the lower ratings. This is something that we have discussed and will address in future iterations of the ongoing redesign.

Research

We requested permission to conduct research on the undergraduates' experiences in 4 of the 6 courses taught using our service learning model. In Jurow's 2 4411 courses, Gutiérrez's 1 4411 course, and Tracy's 1 4112 course, we received permission from all of the students to document their learning experiences.

Analysis of the data collected during Jurow's Fall 2010 course is underway. A graduate student researcher (Jacqueline Hotchkiss) collected a variety of data sources during the course. Her focus, developed in conjunction with Jurow, was to attend to how students engaged with the service-learning goals of the course and used their site experiences to make sense of the theories they studied in class. Hotchkiss took fieldnotes while observing the once-a-week course, audiotaped student discussions in small groups, interviewed select students and the course instructor (Jurow), and collected student work and course materials. Jurow and Hotchkiss are currently reviewing all of the data sources collected during the semester and developing research foci trained on understanding the benefits and challenges of using the service learning model in educational psychology courses. They intend to write two peer-reviewed articles based on the materials. The first will focus on how the multiple sites where students completed their service learning differently mediated their understandings of learning and teaching. The secondbuilds on a course paper written by Hotchkiss and two other doctoral students, Joanna Weidler-Lewis and Tori Barber, in a paper for the Qualitative Research class. In their study, the students found that the blog entries which the undergraduates were required to write weekly served as an important mediational tool for (1) planning and improvisation of the instructors, (2) use of other artifacts and activities in the classroom, (3) students' engagement with the concepts and each other, and (4) the students' developing knowledge and views of the world. These results will be expanded into a publication that will consider how the course blog was used by the instructor and the students as a resource for making robust connections across readings, interactions at site, and personal experiences. A manuscript titled "Designing for the future: How the learning sciences can inform the trajectories of preservice teachers" is currently under review at theJournal of Teacher Education. Jurow, Hotchkiss, Tracy, and Kirshner shared a version of this paper at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association this past spring. Four graduate students (Andrea Bien, Elizabeth Mendoza, Christina Paguyo, and Daisy Pierce) who have been working most closely with the El Pueblo Mágico program also presented analyses of undergraduates' learning at the afterschool program and in Gutiérrez's Fall 2010 4411 course at the same conference. Based on this presentation, members of the El Pueblo Mágico research team have been invited to write a chapter in a book focused on university-community partnerships.

Next Steps

We are currently pursuing funding and partnerships that will allow us to continue using the service learning model in our educational psychology courses. We are focusing our efforts on El Pueblo Mágico and the Family Learning Center as these have been the most productive sites for our students' learning.

Gutiérrez is working with faculty in Computer Science (Gerhard Fischer and Alex Repenning) to develop and sustain the program offerings at El Pueblo Mágico. She has applied to the NSF for funding for the program. Jurow has applied for university funds, via the Chancellor's STEM award, to create richer learning experiences for the undergraduates in 4411 and at El Pueblo Mágico. In regards to the Family Learning Center, Kirshner and Jurow have begun conversations with members of the Center for Children, Youth, and the Environment to develop programming for its students. By developing stronger connections to particular programs and helping them to design their interactions with children and youth, we hope to create more robust learning experiences for our undergraduates.

Cumulative Financial Report

Item

Timing

Cost

Remaining

Graduate student assistant (25% time)(to manage relationships with community partners; supervise students on site; assist with data collection and analysis)

25%, FY 2010-2011

$7664.93

$0

Graduate student assistant (108 hours)(to assist in data analysis and writing articles)

Su 2012

$294.60

$1826.40

Partial summer salary(to support Susan's work to analyze data, begin work on articles, and applying for grants)

June 2011

$2121.00

$0

TOTAL

$10, 080. 53

$1826.40