THE EFFECT OF SERVICE-LEARNING ON CHINESE COLLEGE STUDENTS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University (CHINA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Page: 2968 (abstract only)
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Service-learning (SL), providing the opportunities for students to interact with the true world and experience a lot of unexpected things, has great benefits to students both in cognitive and social development. Our study investigated the specific effects and the mechanism of SL on Chinese college students’ attitude towards children with special educational needs (most of them were mental retardation). There were 75 students who enrolled in the Psychology of Learning course, with 53 students in SL group and 22 students in traditional learning group. Students in SL group spent about 2 hours per week to interact with children with special educational needs throughout the whole semester. The traditional group students were assigned corresponding learning tasks. All students were surveyed the R-MRAI (Mental Retardation Attitude Inventory-Revised) questionnaire at the beginning and the end of the semester. The results of pre-test/post-test showed that students who participated in the SL program had a significant attitude change in the dimension of “social distance”, that is, students became friendlier to children with special educational needs. On the contrary, the students in traditional learning group didn’t show the positive change significantly. Further analysis about students’ reflection journals in SL process indicated that students’ cognitive dissonance in service-learning activity may explain the mechanism of attitude change. Deep exposure to children with special educational needs during the service learning process may bring about both students’ cognitive dissonance on the aspect of special needs children and the drive to reduce the dissonance at the same time. SL provides the great opportunities for students’ attitude change and civil awareness development through the process of dissonance to equilibrium.
Keywords: service-learning, children with special educational needs, attitude change.