Date of Award
Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)
Dr. T. Chan
First Committee Member
Dr. Arvin Johnson
Second Committee Member
Dr. Jing Binbin
The purpose of this research was to explore the benefits of implementing service learning projects in an alternative education program serving 80% African American students. The study attempted to determine if service learning participation influences students’ learning attitude, learning behaviors and social skills while completing course work in the alternative school setting. The focus of the research was on middle and high school African American students attending an alternative education program in rural southeast United States.
The main question that guided this study was: How do students perceive that service learning influences students’ learning attitude, learning behaviors and social skills in an alternative education program? The research questions that was explored in order to answer the larger question were: (1.) How do students perceive that service learning influences students’ learning attitude in an alternative education program? (2.) How do students perceive that service learning influences students’ learning behaviors in an alternative education program? (3.) How do students perceive that service learning influences students’ social skills in an alternative education program?
This narrative case study examined the benefits between the features of service learning and student willingness to participate in and development during a service learning opportunity while enrolled in an alternative education program. The sample consisted of eight students, middle and high school, who were enrolled in the alternative setting for 9-weeks or more. Data in the form of focus groups, journal reflections, and post-questionnaire were collected over the course of 9-weeks.
Data analysis revealed an initial liking to service learning activity, despite nervous feelings and uncertainty. Of the eight students that completed the 9-week period of service learning, they generally described their experiences as enjoyable and fulfilling personally. There was a strong relationship between how fulfilling they found this experience to be and their own perceived benefit for their selves. Students did enjoy the administrative tasks, the socially engaging encounters and most of all, not getting any behavioral referrals. It was important for students to feel that their time spent was helpful for them. The data revealed that students strongly felt that they developed the following personal qualities: patience, gratitude, patience, confidence, communication and social skills, appreciation of other races, appreciation of school work/lessons, career direction, and overall self-esteem.
Overall, the findings of this study offer interesting contributions to several ongoing scholarly discussions in the area of service learning.