USING CROSS CULTURAL RESEARCH TO DEFINE BEST PRACTICES IN DEVELOPING SERVICE LEARNING COURSES: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE PEDAGOGY OF TEACHING CHILDREN CONSIDERED TO BE "AT-RISK"
Elmhurst College (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:In the past decade there has been increased interest in the well-being and status of children both in the United States and worldwide (Kominski, Jamieson and Martinez, 2001). Much has been written about disadvantage, social exclusion and income inequalities among children and several studies have found that nationally and internationally, child poverty rates are higher than those for the general population and adult population (Harding, Lloyd, and Greenwell, 2001; UNICEF, 2005). Some researchers and many educators argue that all children are at risk in some way or another. Others emphasize that some children face much higher risks than do other children, and some argue that being "at-risk" does not imply certainty of failure (Moore, 2006). However, most researchers and educators would agree children who are considered to be "at-risk" are more likely to have difficulty and struggle in school settings, display poor learning and social skills, demonstrate low self-esteem, have higher incidences of ill health and experience soical exclusion and discrimination (Tanton, Harding, Daly, McNamara, and Yap, 2006). Despite the volume of research that exists reguarding children classified as being "at-risk", much remains to be done in understanding and integrating these findings into the pedagogial curriculum for pre-service teachers.
Our Education Department's curriculum offers pre-service education students four interdisciplinary international courses that provide opportunities to engage in hands-on service work in schools in Australia, England, Jamaica and South Africa. In order for our students to be successful working in these international schools it is imperative that they not only have an understanding of the culture of the country they travel to but also of the student populations and teaching pedagogy used by teachers. To that end, this interdisciplinary cross-cultural research project focused on defining and identifing best practices used in teaching children considered to be "at-risk" for academic failure in five countries: the United States, Australia, South Africa, England, and Jamaica. Common organizational and instructional strategies were identified across the five countries. A teacher interview questionnaire was developed and piloted in Australia. Pilot data were reviewed and additional teacher interviews were then conducted in Chicago, Illinois, USA; South Africa; England; and Jamaica.
This project investigated teachers in elementary schools in five countries. The three central research questions that guided this study and that the teacher interview questionnaire focused on were:
1). How do classroom teachers define children "at-risk" in their cluture and country?
2). How do classroom teachers identify children "at-risk" in their classrooms?
3). What educational strategies do teachers implement to make learning meaningful for children "at-risk" for academic failure in their classrooms.
Findings from this research project were then used to infuse the college's course curriculum in the four international service-learning courses that take students into schools for work experiences in South Africa, Jamaica, England and Australia. These research findings were also used to enhance courses in our Teacher Education curriculum to better prepare our teacher education condidates to work in high needs schools with students who are "at-risk" for school failure in the United States.