Globalisation and the Value of Service Learning in an Undergraduate Primary Teacher Education Program

  • Anne L. ScottEmail author


Although service learning experiences are becoming more prevalent in many universities internationally, important questions and challenges remain unanswered. What might service learning experiences look like when large cohorts of preservice teachers complete 70 h as an integral part of an undergraduate primary teacher education program? Has the service learning added to the preservice teachers’ preparation for the profession? In this study, 130 preservice teachers in their third year of a 4-year Bachelor of Education Primary course participated in various community-based programs, including a local homework club for primary school-aged children, as part of their compulsory professional experience unit over 24 weeks. Preservice teachers’ written online discussions about their experiences were inspected using Butin’s (Teach Coll Rec 105(9): 1674–1692, 2003) conceptual framework for service learning. Findings indicate that many preservice teachers gained valuable insights about people, learning and themselves (personally and as prospective teachers) as a direct result of their experiences in the nonschool setting. Factors which led to the success of the program involved: scheduling time for service learning into the weekly timetable for those studying third-year education units, providing an induction program for preservice teachers, having a designated liaison person to facilitate clear communication between the agency and university partners and providing prompts for preservice teachers’ regular and focussed critical online reflections on their service learning experiences. In spite of the modest levels of success with the implementation process, feedback from preservice teachers using the university evaluation instrument indicated they needed more regular contact with those with whom they worked to develop productive learning relationships and that they wanted more freedom with the way they reflected on their service learning experiences.


Service learning Preservice teacher education Diversity Teacher beliefs 



I would like to acknowledge the ongoing effort and enthusiasm of Ms Mary Campbell (Liaison Personnel) and thank her for her contribution to the program.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationAustralian Catholic University (Melbourne Campus)East MelbourneAustralia

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