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Creating an Understanding towards the needs of others, Teachable moments in real world scenarios, Objectives to accomplish educational goals, Participation, teamwork and camaraderie, Instruction and leadership opportunities, and Assessment of knowledge that is valid and reliable with Service-Learning, Portfolio Based Assessment, Knowledge-Creating Schools and Authentic Professional Development for Teachers and Students in the Twenty First Century


Laura Ann Osterman

                                                              M.Ed. Leadership      


     The National Corporation for National Service defines Service-Learning as a methodology in which individuals learn by engaging in organized activities that meet a community’s needs, are coordinated with schools or programs, instill civic service responsibility, are combined with district and state curriculum performance objectives and create opportunities to be reflective in oral and written forms (C.S.N Act 1990).
Service-Learning’s roots can be traced back to popular philosophies in education by John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Alexis De Touqueville. These philosophers and scholars believed that the most productive learning environment occurred when students were actively involved in their education and learning because there was a distinct purpose ( Billig,2000;Anderson et al. 1991; Stanton et al. 1999).

     Major components of Service-Learning include engaging in organized learning activities and experiences, focusing on the community’s needs, combining academics and curriculum, reflecting through oral or written language, having the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge in real world situations and creating a sense of caring for others who are less fortunate (Bhaerman et al., 1998; Billig, 2000; Schon 1983; Noddings, 1992). In addition, some believe that Service-Learning is beneficial to the person engaged in service as well as the person receiving the service while providing reflection of the experience and utilization of academic skills (Schon,1983 ; Taylor, 1996). With regards to education reform Service-Learning has been considered a way to reinvigorate citizenship and create responsible caring citizens (Shaffer,1993 ; Boyte, 1991 ; Barber, 1993 ; Sagwa & Halperin, 1993 ; Goodlad, 1998 ; Noddings, 1992). In a constructivist, theoretical and philosophical light, Service-Learning has been referred to as a tool to enhance curriculum and align the standards. Furthermore, some have viewed it as an excellent way to expose students to opportunities in the real world and career oriented professions while creating a stronger sense of belongingness in school (Carin, 1992 ; Billig & Kraft, 1998 ; Owens & Wang, 1997 ; Howell, 1997).

     A plethora of research between the years of 1985-2000 involving students from kindergarten through twelfth grade indicates that educators have a strong desire to implement Service-Learning activities into their classrooms and that Service-Learning has many positive effects while it significantly effects the lives of those who are involved in Service-Learning. With regards to personal development, Service-Learning has shown increases in responsibility, communication and competence. In addition, those who engage in Service-Learning tend to value responsibility more and have a higher sense of responsibility than those lacking the experience. Furthermore, when compared to students without opportunities for service-learning, participants of Service-Learning activities viewed themselves as more socially competent and they were more likely to treat others in a kind manner, assist others in need and care about doing the best they could do in a variety of situations both inside and outside of the classroom. Finally, they showed increases in their self esteem, their sense of self worth and there were fewer behavior problems (Weiler et al., 1998 ; Lemming, 1998 ; Scales & Blyth, 1997 ; Berkas 1997, Shaffer, 1993 ; G. Switzer et al.,1995 ; Billig, 2000 ; Noddings, 1992).

     In the area of relating and accepting others from a diverse setting of cultures, Service-Learners were more trustworthy, trusting and reliable. They were more likely to bond with the elderly and disabled and showed more empathy towards those who were less fortunate. In addition, they showed increases in their self awareness of cultural differences and a desire towards helping others. Furthermore, they became more dependable and had higher comfort levels relating to ethnically diverse groups. Finally, Service-Learners felt less alienated from others, had fewer problems with behavior and were less likely to be sent to the administrator for disciplinary reasons (Sephens, 1995 ; Follman, 1998 ; Melchoir, 1998 ; Morgan & Streb, 1999 ; Neal et al., 1994 ; Berkas, 1997 ; Shaffer, 1993 ; Loesh-Griffin et al., 1995).

     Students involved in Service-Learning of a higher quality purported that they had increased their awareness of the community’s needs. They thought and felt like they could make a difference in their community in the future and that they had made meaningful contributions while they were engaged in higher levels of commitment towards serving others. Older students reflected more on politics and the operation of the United States Government. They showed increased interest in politics and political events and causes and considered how they might be able to make and sustain social changes. They also became more involved in community organizations, showed more responsibility towards voting and considered how they might be able to make and sustain social changes in contrast to children who did not participate. Students of all ages showed an increased awareness of civic responsibility, had higher moral character and were more ethical about serving those who were less fortunate ( (Melchoir, 1999 ; Westhemier & Khane, 2000 ; Yates & Youniss 1996, ; Perry, 1996 ; Morgan & Streb, 1999 ; Billig & Conrad, 1997 ; Scales & Blyth, 1997 ; Stephens, 1995 ; Berkas, 1997 ; Youniss et al., 1997 ; O’ Bannon, 1999 ; Billig, 2000).

     With recent increased focus on standardized testing and scores, the public should take notice of the fact that Service-Learning increases academic skills and concept attainment. Specifically, gains on achievement tests have shown between slight to significant ranges in reading and writing. Students in Service-Learning curriculum became more engaged in classroom instruction and activities and showed more interest in completing their homework. In addition, higher scores were attained on state assessments. They earned higher grades and increased their grade point averages in 83% of the schools 76% of the time. In the area of reading for information in mathematics, students who participated in Service-Learning had higher scores than students who were not given the opportunity. On a crucial note for inner city administrators and educators, older students who participated in Service-Learning were less likely to become drop outs, engage in unprotected sex, become teenage parents and/or get involved in violent behavior and criminal activity. Furthermore, students of all ages who participated in Service-Learning had higher attendance percentages, were less likely to be tardy, were able to complete their class assignments more frequently, were more active with regards to class participation, showed improvement in problem solving skills, were more interested in the learning process as a whole and felt that they had learned more in Service-Learning experiences than others. Finally, with regards towards future career aspirations,  Service-Learners were better prepared for their future careers. They had more communication skills and became more aware of the opportunities and possibilities toward a variety of future careers (Weiler, 1998 ; Anderson, 1991 ; Schmuer, 1994 ; Shaffer, 1993 ; Dean & Murdock, 1992 ; O’Bannon, 1999 ; Akuiobi & Simmons, 1997 ; Billig et al., 1999 ;  Follman, 1997 ; Supik, 1996 ; Billig, 2000 ; Rolzinski, 1990 ; Duckenfield & Swanson, 1992 ; Loesch-Griffin et al., 1995 ; Stephens, 1995 ; Billig & Conrad, 1997 ; Melchoir, 1999 ; Weiler et al. 1998 ; Berkas, 1997 ; O’ Donnel et al., 1999 ; Allen et al., 1994). In schools that participated in Service-Learning curriculum, students were more respectful towards their teachers and showed higher levels of camaraderie and cohesiveness with their teachers.

     In addition, there was less student mobility and teacher turnover in schools that focused on Service-Learning. Furthermore, it created more discussion with regards to creative teaching techniques and the reflective process. Educators became more collaborative and were involved in curriculum, instruction, and planning. Finally, on the other end of the spectrum, the community viewed students and schools involved in Service-Learning in a more positive light than students who were not involved in Service-Learning (Weiler et al., 1998 ; Berkas, 1997 ; Billig & Conrad, 1997 ; Pickeral, 1998 ; Melchior, 1999 ; Kinsley, 1997 ; Wade, 1997 ; Anderson et al. , 1991 Kingsland et al. 1995).

     In conclusion, between the years of 1984-1997 Service-Learning grew tremendously. The number of students involved in Service-Learning increased by over ten million. Public schools now purport student’s involvement in Service-Learning to be between sixty and eighty percent. In addition, over fifty percent of articles written with regards to Service-Learning were viewed as favorable and/or supportive. Service-Learning has shown valid and reliable research in qualitative and quantitative meta analyses and quasi experimental studies along with affirmative reports and testimony for administrators, educators and students. It benefits everyone involved by creating a more productive learning environment and more responsible members of society. Furthermore, Service-Learning appears to be a legitimate way to educate children and there is substantial evidence that Service-Learning should be combined with national, state and district performance objectives and expectations. Finally, individuals from all Service-Learning groups make a difference when they are willing to go out into their community and serve those who are less fortunate. For those conditions, as well as others, they begin to reflect on existing conditions and possible ways to create social changes. They receive social and academic skills and engage in meaningful experiences that last a lifetime (Conrad & Hedin, 1991 ; Newmann & Rutter, ; APCO Associates, 1999 ; Skinner & Chapman, 1999 ; Billig, 2000).

Portfolio Based Assessment

     In The Right to Learn Linda Darling-Hammond states that portfolio based assessment is valued both by educators and parents. Portfolios foster extensive reading, writing and mathematical problem solving and create a detailed picture that provides the framework to assess an individual student’s strength and their areas of refinement on a daily basis. In addition, portfolios encourage both the student and the educator to continually evaluate and revise their work until it exceeds expectations. Children appear to be more excited about the learning process and are less afraid to take risks. Finally, Darling-Hammond acknowledges that assessments combined with authentic professional development positively affect instruction and push schools toward improvement. However, she concludes that portfolios are a foundation for a genuine measure of accountability and educational quality because they benefit educators and students rather than politicians ( Darling-Hammond, ; 1997 Koretz et al., 1992 ; Murname & Levy, 1996 ; Kortz, 1998).

In an article entitled “Why Standardized Tests Do Not Measure Educational Equality”, James Popham purports the reason why these tests continue to be one of the most important factors within any school system deals mainly with the fact that most educators do not comprehend why standardized tests are misleading measures of effectiveness. He believes educators must understand how misleading they are as a measure of effective teaching. He discusses the differences between aptitude and achievement tests. Specifically, aptitude tests predict how well an individual will perform in an educational setting, the SAT,ACT, MACT and LSAT are examples of these types of tests. Achievement tests are the current measure of evaluating a school’s effectiveness. The CAT, A.I.M.S., Iowa and Stanford Nine tests are examples of these types of tests. They are only a norm referenced sample of relative knowledge and skills that is compared to a state/national sample of the same age or grade level. He compares using standardized tests as an accurate measurement to ascertain educational quality as measuring a temperature to a tablespoon (Popham, 1999). He offers several reasons as to why these tests should not be used to calibrate the quality of education. First, the tests are created by large corporations and their main goal is to make a profit for their shareholders by minimizing costs of production. Minimization of cost fails to consider the consequential amount of diversity within the United States school system. There are significant differences in the educational objectives prevailing within the school district throughout the country. Research at Michigan State University has shown that between 50 and 80 percent of what was measured on the tests was not covered substantially in mathematical textbooks (Freeman et al. 1983). Second, items that are answered correctly by a majority of students are eliminated in favor of items that are considered to be more difficult. Therefore, as educators improve on teaching specific knowledge of these skills, it is less likely there will be items on the tests that measure this knowledge and these skills. Popham stipulates that to evaluate teachers’ instructional progress and effectiveness by using assessment measures that deliberately avoid important content is futile. Third, the most significant reason that these tests do not accurately measure educational quality deals with contradictory causation. This involves three factors that contribute to scores on standardized achievement tests. (1) What the children are learning in school. (2) A child’s intrinsic intelligence and (3) learning that occurs outside of the school setting. Research has proven that standardized tests do not accurately measure only what has actually been taught in schools. In addition, all children do not have the same learning styles or intellectual capability due to a variety of forms of intelligence (Gardner, 1994).  Furthermore, children of more economically advantaged families have better opportunities to engage in more learning outside of their school settings and these simulating educational environments and experiences are apt to assist them on being more successful with answering the more difficult questions on standardized tests.

     Popham suggests that educators need to research and learn more about standardized achievement tests. Second, he thinks teachers should be more responsible with regards to education and the education of others. Teachers need to become more politically involved and campaign so that their colleagues, parents, board members and politicians actually understand why and how these tests are not the best way to measure the quality of education within our schools. Finally, educators at all levels need to unite and brainstorm a better way to show evidence of there student’s progress. Possible ways could include a set pre-test post-test design to show substantial growth in progress and keeping that measure within a student’s portfolio (Popham, 1999).

     In conclusion, a body of research by extremely knowledgeable educators in the field indicates that portfolio based assessment creates the most productive learning environment for administrators, educators, and students with regards to concept attainment, curriculum, instruction and planning.

The Knowledge-Creating School

     The “Knowledge-Creating School” provides powerful insight as to how to address the challenges of increasing student achievement with regards to professional development. Specifically, teachers need to model the very qualities they are expecting currently from their own students; flexibility, networking and creativity (Hargreaves, 1999). He outlines several features of an ideal typical Knowledge-Creating school. First, the school should make an audit of its existing knowledge. He postulated that a teachers “cognitive map” of the organization establishes a knowledge base of systematic coded information that enriches and creates accomplishment (Hargreaves, 1999 ; Goodman, 1968 ; Weick and Bougon, 1996 ; Kerwin, 1993 ; McGee & Prusak, 1993 ; Skyrme & Amidon, 1997 ; Davenport, 1997).

     Second, a Knowledge-Creating School engages in a management procedure to dispense and create new professional knowledge. His article purports a hypothesis that schools which embrace the creation of professional knowledge will display similar characteristics to those of high technology firms that are incredibly more successful in knowledge creation thereby responding to the demanding duality for higher research and development productivity and shorter development lead times (Hargreaves, 1999 ; Jelinek & Schoonhoven, ; Leonard-Barton, 1995 ; Dogson & Besant, 1997 ; Hussey, 1997 ; Harryson, 1998).

     In addition, Hargreaves suggests that knowledge creation arises out of the result of a combination of explicit and tacit knowledge and formulates our modes of knowledge conversion. Those being conversions consisting of socialization, internalization, externalization and combination, as summarized in the work of Nonaka & Takeuchi (Hargreaves, 1999 ; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Socialization refers to a shared experience done through apprenticeship and on the job training which leads to the generation of tacit knowledge. Learning by doing creates internalization because explicit becomes tacit through experience. Externalization occurs as a result of reflection and collective dialogue amongst members of the community environment. Combination occurs through achievements of people with different knowledge coming together through networking, systematizing and elaborating explicit knowledge by combining different bodies of knowledge (Hargreaves, 1999).

     Third, a Knowledge-Creating School honors and validates the professional knowledge that has been created. Finally, the Knowledge-Creating school needs to distribute and permeate the newly created professional knowledge throughout schools and the knowledge base as a whole. He stated that distribution of the knowledge is currently in a seriously poor state. This area has been seen as a problem for a lengthy amount of time by research and development authorities within the university system, who suggest that better distribution of their research would lead to greater improvements in teaching and learning. However, he pointed out that research indicates carefully planned distribution frequently led to lower levels of adoption and implementation (Hargreaves, 1999 ; Glassner, Abelson, & Garrison, 1983). Thus, each community should decide how to distribute the information according to the best way to maximize the benefits, adoption and implementation for their community.

      Within his article Hargreaves recommends four “Principal Seeds” that would contribute to the germination of a Knowledge-Creating School. First, teachers need to be allowed to “tinker” (Tayack & Cuban, 1995). Second, schools need to be heavily involved in the area of initial teacher training. Third, teachers need to become more involved in the area of school based research. Finally, schools need to make use of middle management, because those who serve in the areas of top management are too far removed from the schools to have vital “hands-on” experience that is necessary in the creation of innovative knowledge and practices (Hargreaves, 1999).

     He concludes his article by calling for action amongst teachers, schools and universities within the areas of mode 1 and mode 2 knowledge.

Mode 1 uses the university as its base. It is pure disciplinary, homogeneous, expert-led, supply-driven, hierarchical and peer reviewed. Mode 2 is applied knowledge, problem-focused, trans-disciplinary, heterogeneous, demand-driven, entrepreneurial, accountability tested and embedded in networks (Hargreaves, 1999 ; Gibbons et al., 1994).

He recommends six proposals to create a reform within the framework of educational research. First, national structures should support efforts of group creativity and distribution by creating more flourishing environments that are concerned with knowledge that can be utilized after negotiation has occurred. Second, the development of continuous networking is extremely meaningful and a goal should be developed towards achieving it. Third, school sites referred to as “Beacon Schools” need to be created to provide opportunity for the development and of testing mode 2 knowledge. Fourth, a balance needs to be established between universities, researchers and schools that are more homogeneous and supportive. Fifth, funding needs to be offered to teachers who participate in the design of a Knowledge-Creating schools so that they will be able to engage in research and practices that will be beneficial in the future. Finally, a bridge with a strong foundation needs to be constructed between mode 1 and mode 2 types of knowledge production (Hargreaves, 1999).

Authentic Professional Development

         The acquisition of a particular domain of competencies and shared set of commitments to guide practice (Newmann, 1993).

         A gradual shift from instruction of basic skills towards teaching for higher order thinking (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987 ; Newmann, 1993).

         An “inexplicable wave of enthusiasm” (Smyth, 1992 p. 268) for reflective approaches.

         A process of complex collaboration. A balance of different sets of knowledge that reflect different levels of experience and epistemology ( Richardson, 1994 ; Kagan, 1993 ; Glickman, 1990 ; & Liberman, 1992).

         A creative way to bridge the gap and avoid the theory practice dichotomy (Stoddard, 1993).

         A vehicle that provides accountability for professional teachers “by ensuring that they have the tools to apply theory in practice and by socializing them to professional norms and ethics” (Darling-Hammond, 1992. p. 91).

         An in-depth sustained professional development resides at the heart of the reform process (Darling-Hammond & Mc Laughlin, 1995 ; Liberman, 1995 ; Liberman & Miller, 1991 ; Little, 1993). 

         Seeking to create a system of networking, reculturing and restructuring, which relates successful development of new values, beliefs and norms (Fullan, 1996 ; Leiberman & Grolnick, 1996)

         Dependent on teacher’s opportunities to learn about new opportunities and adapt them to local conditions (Little, 1993).

         A catalyst of change for those who participate within an understanding of themselves as professionals and in the field of education (Borman & Cusick, 1994).


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Update...December 19, 2008


For $7.50, Less than a movie, you can provide food for a starving child.



$0.25 cents a day provides two nourishing meals every day for a month to a child threatened by famine.

We endeavor to create a chapter that will support Doctor's Without Borders in the future.

At least this way, the next time you see a starving child, you can feel hopeful and not hopeless, and powerful instead of powerless.

Ideally, if everyone who owned a credit card did this, the problem probably would not exist.

And remember... Every time you sit down to eat a meal, figuratively speaking, there is a cute, smiling, child sitting across from single you, and/or you and your family enjoying your generosity.

Your family size has increased, and for those who dislike eating alone, figuratively speaking, you'll never eat alone!

Please share this message with your friends and family and pass it on!

Spread it like wildfire throughout the world!





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