The doing revolution: Service learning, early adolescents, and personal growth

by Farber, Katy, Ed.D., NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, 2016, 172 pages; 10094587


The purpose of this research was to gain insight and understanding of fifth grade students’ perspectives of their experiences in a service learning class in a middle school (grades 5-8). The theory of Experiential Learning Theory by David Kolb was used to frame this research. A literature review explored the developmental match between service learning and early adolescents, personal growth as a result of service learning, service learning as a tool for fighting bias and entitlement, curriculum integration and service learning pitfalls. The research question was: How did fifth grade students’ participation in a service learning program influence their personal development, including their engagement and self-efficacy? Through document reviews, interviews, observations, a questionnaire, photographs, and conversations, several themes emerged to describe the student experience in this course and the personal development of participants. The research indicates that service learning at the middle level increases self-efficacy and engagement in middle level learners. In addition, further findings were discovered about teacher growth mindset, supporting innovative teaching, and real life applications of Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) programs. The findings form this research could inform curricular decisions made at the local, state and national level, as well as school configuration and planning for meeting the unique needs of early adolescent students.

AdviserSara Ewell
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsMiddle school education; Education; Curriculum development
Publication Number10094587

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