Using Service Learning to Increase Mobile Students' Connection to School

Using Service Learning to Increase Mobile Students' Connection to School

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This study investigated whether an after-school, service-learning intervention could increase belonging for Latino elementary school students who were attending a new school and who had previously attended at least two elementary schools. The intervention program derives from research demonstrating the negative academic and social ramifications of mobility, as well as the research indicating that increasing a student's belonging to his or her school can eradicate many of these consequences. Attachment to school may be especially important for Latino students. Service learning, an instructional practice in which students perform service that is planned by the students and is responsive to authentic community needs, is one promising method of increasing student belonging. This study involved designing and implementing a six-week after-school intervention program during which students completed a service project to benefit the school community. Using student surveys, student interviews, teacher interviews, teacher reflections and student journal reflections, I measured student feelings of belonging prior to the intervention as well as after. A non-participant group illustrated the transition experience for incoming students without an intervention. My findings demonstrate that students in the intervention program displayed increased classroom participation, increased self-confidence, increased numbers of friends, increased numbers of relationships with adults at school, and an increased general enjoyment of school. These findings were not true of the non-participant group. The findings also indicate that service learning may not have been as important to the students as was the community-building that occurred during the intervention program. Specifically, giving students ultimate control and decision-making power, as well as providing a shared experience and common goal, allowed the students to form a community within their new school.At the beginning of the intervention, students segregated by grade or gender while conversing. ... about their upcoming weekend soccer games, math tests they had taken earlier in the day, and funny stories from their classes. ... One day during the intervention, Aracely had an accident and wet her pants; whereas other fourth and fifth graders might ... That happened to me too on the field trip last week.

Title:Using Service Learning to Increase Mobile Students' Connection to School
Author:Erica Lea Rothblum
Publisher:ProQuest - 2008


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