Running Head: SERVICE LEARNING 1
The Perception of Educators on Service Learning for High School Students
Numerous studies examine the perception of educators on service learning for high school students. According to a study done by Schine (2016) service learning has become popular in modern day society among educators of high school students. The study postulates service learning as knowledge base for teachers, which is regarded as systematic and effective in designing effective teaching with the aim of achieving certain set goals, is the formal empirical research on teaching effectiveness. This goes hand in hand with the realizing of learning goals. Schine (2016) conceptualized the teacher knowledge and proposed four aspects which are: General pedagogical knowledge in which the teacher understands how to moderate discussions of students, how to design group works, how to organize material for the students and how to utilize texts and other sources used in teaching. Further, content knowledge which includes the understanding of a domain’s concepts, theories, principles,classic problems as well as explanatory concepts that bring the major ideas together. Pedagogical knowledge which is mainly based on the knowledge of the types of ideas necessary for learners of different ages to analyze, knowledge of ideas that are required for students’ understanding of a target area. It also imbibes skills to be able to bring students to a reasoning process where they are able to solve problems and noting differences and similarities and disciplinary knowledge which includes the understanding of methods and theories applied in class and the relationship that they have.
According to Amtmann (2014), well grounded knowledge base is vital for an intelligent actor, in this instance, an intelligent teacher. Decisions in class should be made on a well grounded knowledge base and this helps the teacher to be able to take control of the various circumstances in class. The knowledge base of teaching involves the required cognitive knowledge for creating operative teaching and learning environments. This is crucial because it focuses on the mechanisms that explain how comprehension of information and knowledge gained in classrooms can be put into good use of the society through identification of the channels through which the information can be used for the betterment of the society.
According to Ball (2018), the instructional design approach hypothesizes education as a decision-oriented or prescriptive engineering science particularly aimed at achieving practical educational ends in efficient ways. Education in this instance is viewed as a system that is built by many elements. The researcher acknowledges the instructional design theory, which also recognizes ideas of constructivism, as a theory invokes decisions on how to teach selected educational content. In summary, the instructional design approach is a process that analyzes the stages and components of learning and what one includes in the planning and implementation of a lecture. It entails gathering up and analysis of learning goals and outcomes, how one conducts a lectureand how one assesses the learners and also the revision of learning and instructional material. It confirms the distinction between a theory of instructional design and a theory of learning and they require one to know how these two are connected, which is what instructional design theory does not do.
Barkley (2018) propose similar approaches of the design of teaching, but they also differ in some aspects. Tomlinson suggests the Learning Promotion Potential which tried to deal with the relationship between learning theory and pedagogy, in which teaching involves strategies that try to systematically work together towards attainment of the intended learning outcomes. Teaching in this case is explained as a process that is purposeful, that promotes learning, in which learning was regarded as a process where one, through action or experience, gains knowledge and capabilities. The approach that embraces an adaptive teaching movement which was propounded during the 1970s, are of the notion that learners differ in qualities relevant to learning and also in different learning-teaching processes they are exposed to.
Bennett and Gallagher (2017) take this further and suggests that teaching as a purposeful interaction involves various factors, the top being the teacher, one or more learners, intended learning outcomes, an interactive learning/teaching process which happens in a certain context and useful resources for that goal. All these, when combined, affect the learning outcomes. They contend that teaching is a process that includes the learner, who through activities and experiences in class is equipped with new skills and abilities. For the learner to be equipped with these capabilities, the teacher and the learner have to work hand in hand in engaging in different activities. Tomlinson also highlights the basic teaching and learning functions that include acting on the situation for both the teacher and the learner to reach their intended goal, read the situation for any adjustments and adaptations that might be necessary in the process. On the part of the teacher, the basic teaching functions of influencing the learner’s learning and monitoring the learners progress are looked into. That being said, service learning, although it tried to explain the relationship between learning theory and teaching design, it could not satisfactorily deal with the relationship between learning and teaching because it did not highlight the differences between the two as well as how the relationship is. The service learning also failed to analyze the design of teaching because, in the first place, it did not explain the distinction between types of learning and types of educational goals for one to be able to be informed by these when coming up with a teaching design. The study therefore highlight the differences between learning and teaching by way of differentiating the activities that make up a lecture and the inner learning processes of the learner. These basis models include problem solving, development of skills and use of learning strategies. In combining these, Brooks et al. (2015) suggest that successful teaching involves both the basis models and the visible form of teaching events. How the teacher’s visible events are carried out differs depending on how the teacher conducts a lecture as long as it engages with the basis models. According to Brooks et al. (2015) model offer interesting ideas but some of them are difficult to distinguish, for example learning strategy use and learning of skill and some base models are put together in terms of a certain manner of teaching assistance and that is an opposition to pure learning process.
In 1995, Cooper (2015) proposed various changes to the competencies that were in place for the betterment of the learning and teaching of subjects. Action competence, which is the ability to understand and effect meaningful speech acts, should be, according to him part of the communicative competence. The competencies mentioned above are vital in subjects learning because they equip one with necessary competencies for effective communication in and outside the classroom and to have a deeper understanding of language use in different contexts. One can conclude that these above mentioned competences emphasize mainly the use of language in or outside teaching and learning conditions. Although these qualities can be commended, it is imperative for the learners to know the context and how to use the acquired language and language skills appropriately. There is need for the learners to be able to skillfully and practically utilize their knowledge and understanding of the acquired language. This can be achieved by practically engaging with activities that make the students speak or write appropriately and at the same time showing the knowledge and skills necessary for a well competent-equipped learner. The study also suggests that students need to advance their knowledge in capacities that have to do with their intercultural communicative competence: personal knowledge and appreciation of how the socialization process takes place in societies. In this instance, students are expected to develop skills that would enable them to interpret and perceive a different culture and in this case, the Subjects culture, and should be able to relate it to their own culture. Students should also know how to make sense of the lessons from school to help society. This implies that students have to be able to identify new information and be able to relate it to what they already know. Students should also know how to engage with the political consequences of education; being critically aware of cultural behaviors. This comes when the students read or get to know about the Subjects culture. Knowing how to discover cultural information is also essential for students and knowing how to be: how to relativize oneself and value the attitudes and beliefs of the other is considered vital for subjects learners. In summary, it is important to equip the students with the intercultural communicative competences that include the linguistic, sociolinguistic, grammatical, discourse, action and intercultural competences mentioned above. These competences enable the students to function effectively in a multi-cultural society. The students are expected to have acquired intercultural competences to establish the similarities in differences between the own and target culture, to analyze new cultural phenomena, traditions and behaviors from other communities also included. The students should also acquire the ability to develop empathy for the others, which enables one to recognize their cultural traditions in contrast to the own community tradition and the knowledge of own historical roots. Through this knowledge, the students should be in a position to obtain more objectified image of own culture, customs, traditions and ways of thinking, tolerate or deal with other cultures as well as to have the ability to have peaceful contact with the representatives of other cultures and cope with cross cultural misunderstandings.
Gibb et al. (2016) suggest that the teaching of Subjects as a subjects is not only intended to assert the cultural and linguistic attributes of the Subjectss and the Subjects-speaking communities. They argue that it is created in order to relate to the experiences of subjects learners. This can be interpreted as a criticism of the concept of multi-perspective in intercultural literature because he propagates a concept of Subjects literature which is not reciprocal, whereby foreign students of Subjects literature should benefit from Subjects literature Foreign students develop new ways of looking at the target culture and also new perspectives on the target culture. The study opines that the assertions are one sided and they only focus on subjects learners of Subjects rather than focusing also on Subjectss learning other languages and cultures, therefore the study presents one side of a culture in service learning. This is precisely the study rejects this concept and instead advocated for a concept that benefits both the Subjects and other cultures involved on the basis of mutual respect in embracing service learning. The study also argues that intercultural communication recognizes the existence and deviation of different cultural spheres and it does not misconceive, misjudge or repudiate any culture.
According to Gumm (2017), the teaching and learning of subjects for a certain time was only effective through use of service learning. The teacher was responsible for the knowledge that the learners acquired and learners tended to understand what they acquired from the teacher. It was later revealed that learners progressively forgot what they learnt in class and new ways of teaching subjects had to be devised. The postulated a systematic and innovative way of teaching and learning subjects. Each individual has personal biases and predispositions, which inadvertently affect their comprehension of diverse phenomena. The constructivist learning theory views learning as connected with experience that one has. It is individual and subjective knowledge to cooperate and interact with one another to transmit what one knows to one another.
Johnson (2016) concurs with this and says that it is important for the learners to socialize and it’s vital in all learning processes, that is how most students learn. The study also emphasizes the need for openness of teachers to the new situations and difficulties that arise during the lectures or learning processes. The study concludes that service learning is important in evaluating the authenticity in student participation.
Legette and McCord (2014) concentrated on students’ participation in class through service learning and highlighted the aspects that are necessary for students when learning in class. Students in the 11th grade gained advanced level skills to due utilization of service learning. The students were expected to bring their experience and knowledge they already have. For the purpose of this study, the researcher focused on the part where the learners brought their knowledge in class in accordance to the study’s constructive didactics. The teacher assigned the students a task to describe the ideal teacher. The teacher, in as much as he was interested in content and the knowledge of the students, he was more interested in the vocabulary training of the students. This was brought out through the conduction of interviews, not from the teacher himself, but from the researchers. Before the study, the students exhibited great difficulties in communication in the target language, English, and their participation in class was insufficient. Due to the failure to use English appropriately, it can be noted that the learners’ vocabulary was not sufficient for them to carry out tasks in class. It was the task of the teacher therefore, to include tasks that boost the vocabulary of the learners. From the findings, although students had great difficulties in communication, they were able to express and explain their answers in an understandable manner. The topic made the students forget about their communication deficiency and were able to air out their views. The study can be commended for making an effort to bring the learners to talking but a more suitable way could have been to let the students discuss in class and reach a conclusion. Although the students were made to participate, it would have been easier for the students to discuss with one another and not being interviewed by a teacher or teachers so that the students speak freely without any reservations.
Constructive didactics emphasizes the learning of subjects in an active environment where learners are expected to participate and involve themselves in creating meaning and knowledge in the target language. Constructivists advocate for learning strategies which were first introduced in 1950 to describe actions which are undertaken to achieve set learning goals.
Malone et al. (2018) rightly posit that the main objective of education, in all its diverse forms, should be to ensure the independence of the learner. The study explains that there is always need to break any barriers that are likely to prevent students from embracing holistic accumulation of knowledge and skills through the service learning approach. Although constructive teaching can be commended for devising a way of learning language through active participation of students, impart in students the capability to make decisions on their own and show unity among themselves, it does not tell us how these can be practically implemented. Of course the learners are expected to participate in class, it is the duty of the teacher to develop a teaching strategy that brings the learners into discussion. The constructive didactics does not provide one with the method of selecting what to teach, how to teach, and the content that should be included in order to enhance students’ participation in class.
Mizelle and Irvin (2016) discusses five strengths of collaborative teaching approaches which are relevant for language learners. He argues that team teaching is relevant because it enables team members to take advantage of individual teacher strength in both pedagogical planning and working with learners. It enhances creativity in teaching, teachers know that they will be teaching for their colleagues and teachers. Collaborative teaching helps to develop a conducive environment for both teachers and learners in classrooms through the facilitation of individualized instruction. Team teaching also helps in validating perceptions of the learners by at least one other team member and builds programme continuity over time.
Moody (2016) undertook a study to examine how the service learning framework can be used to boost student understanding and appreciation of the environment and societies in which they come from. The study used random sampling to select students who had undergone learning using the service learning approach and other who had not used the approach. The findings indicated that students who were taught by educators who embraced the approach were more knowledgeable and performed better in classwork and in exams compared to those who had not used the approach. A conclusion was drawn that the service learning approach should be perceived as better in improving student performance. It was also found to play important role in helping students understand their culture, language and appreciate the differences between their culture and those of other students. Students who had undergone through the service learning approach were better at interacting and tolerating with other students compared to those who had not embraced the approach in learning. Equally important, it was noted that students who had embraced the service learning approach were showing signs of responsibility and social awareness compared to those who had not experienced learning from the service learning point of view. Co-teaching in this distinct environment did not yield better results in the grammatical proficiency than the single instruction approach. The presence of more teachers might have disturbed the learners. Co-teaching requires the teachers to plan, teach and evaluate students’ performance after they have reached a consensus on how to do so. The findings of the study indicated that the training of the educators who are actively engaged in imparting information and skills to students in high schools is also important in ensuring that the service learning process is effective. Specifically, the teachers must understand the cultural background of the students in terms of norms, virtues, morals and acceptable code of conduct. This is important in that it helps the teachers design learning methodologies that reflect life realities that students experience in the communities. Special emphasis should be directed towards ensuring the school syllabus, the learning outcomes and objectives, as well as the manner in which the content is delivered to students in classrooms meets important societal values. The study further found that training of teachers is of paramount importance so that they can be able to understand the cognitive level of development of the students and thus be able to deliver the content in a manner that promotes student understanding. The teaching process should equally involve the learners with the aim of ensuring that they have relevant information and skills. Educators should encourage learners to ask questions so that they can better understand the concepts being taught to them and thus be able to proceed and put them into useful application in various nooks of societal ways of life. This way, the study opines that the service learning approach can be very effective and can yield outcomes that benefit students and societies in which they live. The researcher noted with concern, that from the two reports on collaborative teaching mentioned above, team teaching benefited the teachers more than it benefited the students. A method that benefits the students and the teachers is vital.
Moore et al. (2018) argue from a constructivist point of view, that the methods mentioned above are better than the traditional way of teaching and learning which is tedious and rigid. The traditional way of learning, like what the learners of subjects at the high schools are used to, does not link what they learn with their real-life situation which could make the lecture more live and enjoyable; instead, it focuses on nothing more than what is given in the text. Literature in this new curriculum is a core course and the researcher intends to introduce an intercultural approach in the teaching and learning of subjects at the high schools.
Navan (2017) argues that the traditional method used at high schools can be commended for equipping the students with skills on how to look for themes in literary texts, although students were used to analyze one or more literary texts without necessarily comparing them. It is also important to note that the texts that were chosen, especially poems, although the students failed to appreciate them, were commendable for learners due to their ease. What was missing was the suitable method of teaching poems in a class. Service learning is meant to improve the level of proficiency and intercultural competence of students but the way in which it was being taught seemed to be inadequate in achieving this goal. Taking cognizance of the shortcomings of the teaching methods and tools that were being used, the present study proposed another pedagogical method of teaching literature which could be effective particularly in high schools. Through an incorporation of intercultural perspectives, it was envisaged that the students would create the best appreciation of lessons and culture and a self-reflection of understanding of their own culture. Since the didactics of literature at high schools needed improvement, it was necessary for the study to look closely in literature didactics.
Pearman et al. (2017) opine that for students to be sufficiently motivated to find classes pleasurable, interesting and engaging, they have to be able to relate their everyday life to what they are learning in class. The learning environment should at least be sound and energetic and the learners are the ones who are able to create such an environment with the help of the teacher. In addition to what learners in high schools experience in a subjects class. The study also recommends that when learning a subject, the importance of procedural knowledge should be highlighted. They argue that the main problems faced by learners of subjects are mostly in speech and writing and these are caused by extreme lack of declarative knowledge, which relates to vocabulary, phonological, morphological, syntactical, semantic and textual knowledge of the target language.
Ross and Smith (2015) argue about is important for service learning of subjects in class. When highlighting the importance of procedural knowledge, students should be encouraged not only to focus on their lack of critical thinking and analytical skills, but rather encouraged to find ways of how to deal with their difficulties in learning a subjects. Intercultural communicative competence is a method that is worth recognizing especially in this study because it informs the teacher about what needs to be worked on and if achieved it makes the students competent. It can be used as a yardstick on how to teach target culture as well as to students to know how it has helped them enhance their linguistic and cultural knowledge towards the target language and other subjects in schools.
Russell (2014) carried out a study that sought to analyze the relevance of intercultural communicative competence in subjects classes. The study addressed two research questions on how Iranian teachers perceive the intercultural communicative competence and its importance to the teachers as well as if the Iranian teachers’ experience influence their perception of intercultural communicative competence and its relevance to English language teaching. About hundred Iranian English as subjects teachers participated through the use of questionnaires within the period of one week. The questionnaires asked for information on how the teachers perceived the objectives of subjects teaching, what they think of “culture teaching” objectives in an English. It also asked other subjects teaching context, what types of activities do these teachers use while delivering content to students, what particular aspects do they teach and their opinion regarding the intercultural dimensions in subjects teaching. The study found that there is need to hold workshops for the teachers’ intercultural communicative competence and intercultural teaching. The results of the study were impossible to generalize due to small sample size. The results also relied on self-report data which might not entirely represent the teachers’ perceptions. Qualitative instruments, for example, interviews and observations are recommended to complement the analysis of results obtained from the research tools. The study does not explicitly tell if all the teachers knew what intercultural communicative competence is and how long these teachers have been engaged in the teaching of subjects. The study should have also analyzed the teaching sequences used by each teacher and from there deduce if the necessary goals for a particular lecture are being reflected or not. It is important therefore to find out if the teachers are aware of the intercultural communicative competence before they embark on teaching the students.
Shoho et al. (2017) argue that a literary text enables subjects learners to be flexible in thinking when analyzing or reading a text. He argues that allowing the learners to think independently is commendable but it can be difficult if the subjects learners’ proficiency in that subjects is low. In as much as he considers aesthetic reading as suitable for subjects learners nonetheless points out its limitations especially when dealing with the deficient reader abilities of students of a subjects. Introducing vocabulary to a text or texts being read is common and fuels up a class discussion but it removes the whole meaning of aesthetic reading. The vocabulary range may restrict the students to a kind of relationship that they might have to the text. The reader might be influenced in accepting certain ways of thinking. Students should be allowed to read and understand texts without being given vocabulary for them to develop a kind of relationship with the texts that enables them not only to relate it to their day to day livelihood but also to engage with various language and cultural aspects presented in the texts. This can happen if students are given texts that suit their level of language proficiency. The study asserts that students should be given texts that cater for their linguistic and cultural understanding and this can be done through an environment where the students are active and able to critically examine the texts without any reservations. Students failed to really appreciate the text because it was not of their level of proficiency. A vocabulary list was provided and the students had to read the text more than once or twice in order to understand it.. It is also important to acknowledge the role of the teacher in a subjects class. The teacher and the students work together in order to achieve the targeted goal. As can be noted from the teaching and learning method that was employed in the study, the teaching method can be commended for giving students a Subjects literary text but however, the text was not of the level of language proficiency of the students. The students wrote in their questionnaires that they found the text extremely difficult to comprehend. The problem of the use of literary texts in teaching is that usually is that it can be difficult for students to appreciate its importance if they are unable to relate it with their societies, environment and life in particular. This means it is important for learners and educators to embrace service learning approach with the aim of making classes and education to be more meaningful in the lives through being able to relate it with their lives and society in general. Some criteria have to be analyzed while choosing texts, for example, the ways of life of the students from the communities in which they live in, as well as language skills and background.
A study that was based on the service learning approach was carried out by Smith et al. (2016), in Bangladesh ASA University for students who were learning English as a subject and the purpose was to develop the students’ English skills for the education sector in Bangladesh. Students from the first, second and third semesters participated in this study. To ascertain whether there had been an improvement in the language, a simple test was carried out before the students embarked on the study, and a similar test was also carried out after the study. Since the study was carried out amongst students of different levels, it obviously implies that their level of proficiency varied. The main objectives of the study were for the learners to attain proficiency in language skills and for other learners it was an introductory exercise to literature. Students were not only taught literature, supplementary material was also provided which was in the form of culture friendly stories, rhymes and jokes. Students were tasked to write their opinions on different characters or incidents in texts. They were engaged in discussions pertaining to their own experiences. The students were able to carry out the task with enthusiasm, they obtained responses from the colleagues, and the teacher helped the students in some instances on how to use the language without discouraging them and this made the students express themselves. Students were made to analyze the themes, the style of writing and analyze images. This made them engage more effectively with the text. Students had different tasks such as guessing from the title, visual prompts, key words, listing words, storytelling with objects, thematic discussions, reading the story aloud, literary and non-literary texts, relating the events from the story, making a story time line, retelling the story, role play and making presentations. From these exercises, the researcher was able to find out that literary texts were of much help when learning a subjects. Through working in pairs and groups, students were involved in the discussion. The students gradually improved their oral production, comprehension, grammar, semantics, syntax and vocabulary of the target language.
Smith et al. (2017) suggest that while carrying out service learning, educators should give students vocabulary removes the whole essence of aesthetic reading so learners who were in their third year of learning the language should not be spoon fed with vocabulary lists. It is not clear if the students were grouped according to their levels of proficiency and if the tasks and texts were given according to the students’ level of proficiency. The researcher could have looked more at the use of intercultural approach or rather a comparative study of literary texts were the learners could get to know more about the target culture to avoid the gaps in knowledge of target culture. This intercultural approach employed in this study does not offer one a systematic way of teaching literature in a subjects class as well as a well-structured concept on how to go about a literature lecture. With the recommendations, one learns that in this research, the use of literary texts from two different cultural backgrounds could be useful. Through discussion in class and being tasked to identify similarities and differences and similarities in differences the learners’ knowledge of the language and culture as well as interpretation skills were enhanced. The study also sought to encourage learner centered activities in high schools.
Villa et al. (2015) discusses service learning approached in Turkey. Teachers at high schools adapted the approach and also gave students texts from different cultural backgrounds, poems in subjects, written by a poet or poets with a Turkish background. These poems included cultural aspects. In general, cultural knowledge is relevant when using the cultural approach to teaching a subjects and for the learners, understanding of culture leads one to learn a subject. This is key for students who study literature in a subjects class because they do not only appreciate learning a target language but also the culture and will be able to mediate between the two cultures.
Wade and Anderson (2017) points out the difficulties that most students face when using the service learning approach to gain knowledge can be addressed through incorporating the cultural learning approach to the cultural ways of life of the students. For one to better understand a language or be able to communicate or work efficiently in different countries with different cultural backgrounds, it is important for one to know more about the target culture. Literary texts within the context of subjects taught through service learning should not necessarily be chosen without making consultations with the learners. It is important to choose literary texts that make the subjects learners know the target language, that help them speak about their culture and discuss the themes that are well known to them in the target language. Students should be given texts written in the target language, that illustrate the learners’ cultural history or anything that has to do with the culture of the learner first, then the teacher can move on and give them something on the target culture. This is to ensure that learners have a smooth transition from familiar issues about their own culture to the unfamiliar subjects involving the target language and culture. Examples of tasks were given to learners in a class and it was found that the service learning approach is effective in instilling knowledge to students. Learners should be capable and in a position to analyze the tasks given to them from an intercultural and transcultural point of view using service learning skills.
Yorio (2014) emphasizes the use of migration literature in teaching a subjects that also incorporates the teaching of culture. He points out that migration literature provides high school students with the voice and reflections of the transcultural experiences and a post-colonial identity of subjects. The use of migration literature can be commended depending on the level of learners in a subjects class. The study further asserts that the idea that literary texts are selected depending on each particular group of students, their needs, interests, cultural background and language level. Based on the findings of the study, teachers should look at the student’s cultural background, linguistic proficiency, literacy background, age and level of understanding, interesting texts as well as the availability and suitability of the text. The reasons for learning literature in a subjects class have to be questioned. For some learners, they have already acquired the highest level of language proficiency and they only want to gain more from the migration literature, whereas the others are aiming at improving their cultural awareness and interpretation skills. For this reason, and in line with service learning approach there is need for a dialogue. The study also promotes the learning of culture aspects of life using the service learning approach. Through this, there is an exposure to the stereotypes of a people. It also explains why the stereotypes influence actions of students in high schools.
Zogla (2016) introduced an approach of teaching a subjects and culture to promote intercultural communication which did not only include the “me” and the “you” where students only communicate with each other so that they get to know each other better. After knowing each other, communication afterwards will be delusive or empty. The study also introduced the “triangular didactic” where the “you” and the “me” and a common theme meet and are conducted together. Subjects learners therefore are given a chance to work together while pursuing a common theme. By working together, cultural differences and cultural conflicts are brought to light. Based on a triangular didactic, the study examined how young people experienced international youth exchanges as arenas for learning in relation to other learning arenas in and out of school. The data consisted of participant observations and interviews of a Norwegian youth group who prepared, participated in and reflected on their experiences in an exchange program. The ethnographic study also included an analysis of how the Norwegian youth group reflected to the lives in their native societies through interaction programs. The findings of the study indicated that embracing the service learning framework was important and beneficial to the society. The main reason behind this was that students were able to gain information and knowledge in classrooms after which they were released to go to the society and put the knowledge into use. This happened through identification of channels and procedures through which the information and skills gained could be of great benefit to the society. Creative application of ideas gained in classrooms into programs that could benefit the society was found to be integral in the success equation of service learning framework. Through participation in the youth programs, motivation for learning is increased as well as personal growth and self-understanding. The experience of being in contact with a foreign culture is an added advantage when analyzing a text because one may be able to apply such an experience to the text and reflect on their own experience. This is important to the students in high schools in enabling them to learn critical thinking.
Dori and Kaberman, (2015) affirm that service learning can be viewed from different perspectives. In all aspects, it enhances the learning of a subjects and culture. Through literature, it is possible to be conscious of what is happening around in him/her and is able to know more about their own culture. Literature explains phenomena that are foreign to an individual. Through literature one is able to integrate into another world that is not his own and is able to understand the way of life of others. The more one knows/ reads about a certain culture, the more one is able to interpret the events that take place in that particular culture, enrich their knowledge and be able to reflect on their own culture. It is thus advisable, that when the lecture is for language and culture, learners should be given tasks that enable them to compare and contrast both cultures. The comparison of cultural norms, values and conventions was important in both the target and the learner’s own culture. Festivals, traditions, customs and family life are some of the topics that should be included in the discussions across cultures and contexts in class.
Daniel (2014) argues that this method of giving poems broaching stereotypes to students offers a chance for testing presuppositions the students would have made about the subjects. With this kind of method of teaching, where students are given a poem about stereotypes and asked to comment on it, we can see that stereotypes can be changed into critical thinking. He says. This implies that for the students to better appreciate culture, they initially have to intimately know their own culture and be able to explain their lived experiences so that when reading about the Subjects culture, they can be able to relate to it without difficulties. Students were required to look at both cultures, compare and contrast the cultures and effectively be in a position to infer conclusions from diverse perspectives and points of views. In order to ensure that students have rudimentary knowledge of Subjects history and culture, many course books started to include short literary stories. Reading these literary texts evoke students to be involved in a discussion and it offers them vocabulary on culture and history. The inclusion of literary narratives or cultural narratives in the work books seems to be a noble and worthwhile endeavor given that it seeks to equip students with necessary vocabulary as well as cultural and historical competences. The present study acknowledged the use of literary texts in a subjects class although its main aim was to enhance critical thinking in students which was made possible when the learners acquired a better and comprehensive appreciation of their own culture and foreign cultures as well.
Moustafa et al. (2014) propose that students who are learning subjects in high schools should be introduced to short texts in each chapter that is meant to give students knowledge about the content of the subject, vocabulary that will make students engage themselves in a discussion be it about beliefs and values that are common in subjects or about the attitude of the subjects. This would create a platform for the students to compare the subjects using their own understanding. In order to achieve the objective of ensuring that students understand what is being taught and that they appreciate it, the service learning approach is more effective as it gives students the opportunity to put what they have learned in class into good use through connecting its relevance to the real world where they live in. It can be noted that literature of a subjects is important when learning a subjects. What seems problematic is how literature can be integrated in subjects learning. It appears to be a somewhat appropriate start for students to get to know about the target culture. They present the target culture only without including the local culture of the learners. If both cultures are included in the textbooks then it is guaranteed that students will engage themselves in a conversation where they will be discussing their culture and the target culture. It should be encouraged that the publishing houses include at least two or more cultures in the textbook for subjects learners including the culture of the learners. It is also to note that it is enough for teachers to be aware of other cultures and incorporate these ideas when teaching. The researcher however acknowledges that it might not be necessarily easy for publishing houses to include diverse cultural references and repertoires given that publishers are not sure in which parts of the world books will be used.
Holston and Neil (2013) undertook a study that revealed that cultural competence is vital for the learning and teaching of a subjects. For the learners to acquire this kind of knowledge literary texts are used as a medium of conveying target culture. It is the duty of the teacher to set goals that the learners should reach at the end of each lecture. The teacher should create a convivial environment in which learners are able express their views about the target culture, note/identify stereotypes and overcome them. Within the framework of service learning in classroom, learners should be able to identify important aspects of a literary text or other tasks on their own. The tasks given to them should relate to the real world so that they can be able to appreciate the importance. It is imperative that learners are able to tolerate the “other” and at the same time respect the “other’s” views. Giving the learners something simple but thought provoking to promote critical thinking is important. Intercultural competence helps the students to be able to discuss in the target language. in as much as poems are important for the students studying subjects in high schools, the teacher, as mentioned above, expects the students that by the end of the lecture, should have acquired an intercultural knowledge that enable them to reciprocate effectively in different cultural settings. According to the teacher, the level of understanding for the students’ needs a comparative analysis of poems to boost the intercultural competence. Analyzing one poem, written in Subjects, although simple, will not help the students studying Subjects at high schools to achieve the goals set by the teacher.
The literary text should be used as a medium to investigate the experiences and stereotypes of the “other,” assess people from other cultures and demystify certain things and at the same time doing a reality check. Intercultural competence involves respecting other cultures even when there are certain aspects that one does not understand or that one disagrees with, there is need for one to criticize their orientation towards a foreign culture and to question what one already knows about the culture.
Morton and Troppe (2016) comment that the didactics of literature in a subjects class should focus on the aesthetic reading of the text incorporating intercultural understanding and the interpretation of a text in a sociocultural context. In as much as it is important for subjects learners to learn about stereotypes and literature in a subjects class, it is also of vital importance for the learners to learn more about their own culture in order for them to be able to appreciate the target culture more. According to the present study’s participants’ competence, a service learning approach was more relevant for them to be able enhance their cultural awareness and interpretation skills. The study also sought to create a dialogue between the mother tongue language and culture and the culture of the target subjects, the intercultural literary theory and the intercultural approach seem to be suitable in order to improve subjects learning through the use of literary texts from a language of habitual use and the target language. Service learning plays an important role in the teaching and learning of subjects. However, language teachers encounter problems within this area of teaching subjects through literature. Firstly, there are few materials that can be used by teachers in classrooms. Secondly, there is a lack of preparation in the area of literature teaching in subjects classes because from the studies reviewed in this chapter, there is no research/approach that has explicitly elaborated on lesson planning and lesson preparation. Thirdly, there is the absence of specified objectives defining the role of literature in subjects classes and most teachers try to include literature in their classroom, but they lack the background and training in that field. It is important to highlight the characteristics of learning a foreign culture in class. Culture learning can be regarded as a process of interpretation. Service learning enables learners to understand why the speakers of two different languages act and react the way they do, whether in fictional texts or in social encounters, and what the consequences of these insights may mean for the learner.” During this process, the learners are enabled to interpret and make sense of their inner and outside world. Another characteristics is that cultural knowledge can also be regarded as a constructive learning in which learners, through their past experiences, are able to share information and each individual is able to construct his/her meaning cognitively. The study embraces service learning in the use of everyday language as important since it makes students participate using the grammatical knowledge that they had. The teacher’s duties were also highlighted, which makes it inevitable to discuss the learners’ role in class without discussing the roles of the teacher in class. Loopholes in the method of teaching which include the inappropriate use of interviews and lack of motivating tasks for students in class.
Raskoff and Sundeen (2017) stereotypes are essential tools in the motivation of learners in a subjects class. Stereotypes could and should be used as factors to motivate learners in a subjects class. It is also important to consider the content when teaching culture in a class because the cultural content need to include the learners’ socio-cultural context as well. From the literature review, it can be drawn that the synthesis of the learner’s culture, the target culture and the input from the learner him/herself play a major role in cultural understanding. Collaborative teaching is suitable when the teachers agree on the course outline on how to teach and evaluate students while avoiding disturbing the learners by being unorganized in conducting lectures. The teaching of subjects in high schools is based on service learning approaches in which language learning was attached to learning a certain grammatical structure, learn or memorize a list of words or expressions. It aims at developing the four language skills of reading and listening comprehension as well as writing and oral expression or production. Some texts books, as previously mentioned, went on a step further to include some cultural aspects. The cultural aspects were however monolithically one sided given that the culture represented in the books is only the foreign culture. In order for one to be able to enhance the four language skills mentioned above as well as the cultural knowledge, this study contends that an intercultural approach is the most suitable method for the teaching of topics in classes. With this, it was hoped that the students would be able to negotiate meaning with other people from different cultural backgrounds.
Deemer and Ostrowski (2014) support the idea that learning materials have to incorporate aspects of the home culture through service learning in order to ensure students gain knowledge that is relevant to the environment in which they live. He contends that the intercultural component in second language education requires teachers and learners to pay attention to and respect the home culture and the home language. The study sees service learning approach as involving practice as an important tenet that ensures students gain knowledge and appreciate the environment and world that surrounds them. Reading cultural books or attending lectures about culture is not adequate. They assert that it is essential to come across new or unknown situations, to know how it feels to be insecure, scared and experience rejection, to be able to feel secure, experience trust and sympathy and to be able to deal with culture on another level.
Garrett (2013) carried out ana analysis of the relevance of service learning in imparting communicative competence and the teaching of culture in class has proven that teachers need to be equipped with intercultural communicative competence tools although the study did not provide more information on the organization of the lectures and the duration of the experiences of learners from the time they started teaching. The cognitive type of learning was relevant for the study and this consisted of knowledge – which is when one recalls certain information, comprehension – when one is able to understand the meaning of a given context, translate, interpret problems in a given context. One is also expected to state a problem in one’s own words. Application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation are other cognitive domains. Application involves the use of information learnt in class to novels or in this case literary texts, analysis comprises of the distinction between facts and inferences for a better understanding of texts or situations presented in texts. Synthesis brings parts of diverse elements together for one to create a new meaning or structure that can be explained. Evaluation includes drawing a conclusion on various discussions or ideas presented in certain situation in literary texts.
Mazurkiewicz (2017) argues that the service learning approach and framework is effective because it comprises lesson activities that the teacher devised and employed in the lectures. The teacher is informed and guided by theory of instruction which makes the delivery of content and concepts more effective. This further helps students make sense of new information they read from the texts and be able to relate the information to something they already know, hence making a smooth transition from what they knew to what they did not know. The teacher in this case has to ask questions that link the learners’ previous understanding to the learners’ new information on the topic of discussion. Presentation of content in a systematic and motivating manner helps in class. Giving examples of real life situations plays an important role in helping the students appreciate what is taught and how it reflects to their lives in the societies in which they live in.
In conclusion, service learning is an effective approach of imparting knowledge to students and helping them appreciate its relevance in their lives in the society. It is effective because it helps create learning objectives and course outlines in a manner that reflects important aspects of the society in which students live in, including culture and language. Educators of students in high schools should thus embrace service learning framework in classes.
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