Will Service Learning Help Produce Better-Qualified Teachers?

Ed.D. student and fellowship recipient Judith Buenaflor hopes to effect social change by studying the efficacy of student service learning in college-level education programs.

Judith BuenaflorJudith Buenaflor, a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) student at Walden University, received the 2010 Don E. Ackerman Research Fellowship in Educational Leadership, a $10,000 grant through the Presidential Fellowship Program, to pursue her study, Service Learning: A Potential for Growth for Student Teachers.
 
“Starting in January 2013, all education majors in the state of Pennsylvania must complete 190 service hours through observations, explorations and pre-service teaching to become certified teachers,” Buenaflor explains.
As an assistant professor of education at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pa., Buenaflor has already partnered with other faculty to incorporate hours in the college’s program, ahead of deadline. But several questions rose to the top of her mind: Do students find this requirement beneficial? Do they experience growth through real-life practice, or are they simply going through the motions? What problems do they face in completing these requirements, and how can the college help?

“Teachers need to know a great deal to provide the quality education students need and deserve,” Buenaflor says. “Teaching is very complex.” It isn’t simply demonstrating how to multiply or discussing the themes in literature. It involves understanding yourself and your students. “Service learning can be the vehicle that teaches students what it really means to be a teacher,” she attests.

When Buenaflor completes her research, she plans to bring the results to the college’s dean. “My hope is that real social change will occur through the deepening of the service learning experience,” she says.

About the Fellowship

The Don E. Ackerman Research Fellowship in Educational Leadership provides funding to support faculty or student research projects that contribute either theoretical or applied knowledge that may change education at the pre-K–12 levels, in any educational field or position. The program is designed to encourage research conducted in the name of Walden University and contributing to the continuing improvement of teaching and learning through leadership.

Read more about the Don E. Ackerman Research Fellowship in Educational Leadership and past recipients.