Critical Service-Learning: Learning Through Experience to Advance Teacher Education


Background: The ability to effectively teach culturally and linguistically diverse students is critically important. Research has shown that providing teacher candidates educative experiences through critical service-learning can better prepare future teachers and can foster a social justice stance.

Purpose: This study examines teacher candidates’ perceptions of a critical service-learning experience in a literacy methods course where participants worked in community settings to support English language learners.

Methodology/Approach: Using an interpretative framework, the authors collected and analyzed data from 18 participants including reflection portfolios, questionnaires, and interviews.

Findings/Conclusions: This study found that the critical service-learning experience (a) cultivated an understanding of the identities, strengths, and motivations of learners; (b) nurtured their practice; and (c) fostered their understanding of the importance of community engagement, which all contribute to a social justice perspective.

Implications: This study demonstrates how critical service-learning enriches understanding within our communities, which allows individuals to tackle issues to advance social justice and equity.

Document Type





service-learning, teacher education, experiential education, social justice

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Experiential Education