Advocating for a Cause: Civic Engagement in the Elementary Classroom

Nancy K DeJarnette, Maria Sudeck


In response to the marginalization of social studies instruction in U.S. elementary schools, these teacher educators developed a study to explore the impact that service learning might have on the preparation of elementary teacher candidates. These authors specifically designed a study in which elementary teacher candidates created and implemented an interdisciplinary unit in which service learning was embedded as a critical piece of academic instruction for elementary students. Quality controls for the instructional units were ensured through the provision of instruction for the service learning component for the elementary teacher candidates prior to their clinical practice semester. Data for the study were generated through pre- and post-surveys, focus groups, and document analysis. Findings revealed that elementary teacher candidates reported a greater understanding of service learning, a greater degree of teacher efficacy, and perception of an increased notion of civic engagement by their students as a result of having created and implemented the interdisciplinary instructional unit during their clinical practice semester.


service learning, civic engagement, elementary social studies

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