CSSE 2016 Conference

Project partners presented a paper at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education‘s annual conference in June, 2016. For a full version of the paper or PowerPoint, please email jbergen@uottawa.ca.

Learning to Teach Citizenship: Collaborative Partnerships and Service-Learning in Teacher Education

Civic learning in teacher education is particularly important given that beginning teachers are often tasked with teaching citizenship courses (Milner & Lewis, 2011) and that teachers’ civic knowledge, conceptions of citizenship, and political and social awareness influence their pedagogical practices (e.g. Author, 2009; Journell, 2013), which in turn impact different forms of civic engagement (Kahne, Crow & Lee, 2013). This paper offers a framework for developing an extracurricular service-learning project during teacher education that supports teacher candidates in self-authoring identities as civic educators and actors. The study addresses three questions: (1) How do teacher candidates conceptualize teaching civics and citizenship education, and how does their thinking shift over the course of their involvement in a service-learning project? (2) To what degree do teacher candidates self-author identities as civic actors and educators as a result of their participation in the service-learning project? (3) Which elements of the service-learning project and community partnership contribute to teacher candidates’ development as civic educators and actors?

This case study reports on the second year of a project conducted in collaboration with two national organizations working to enhance students’ understanding of civic participation. The study involved 33 teacher candidates from a Canadian university who developed and delivered three civic education modules to youth aged 14 to 17 years attending a weeklong event with one of the partner organizations. Over the course of nine weeks, 1000 youth participated in the project. This article reports on four data sources: (1) online pre- and post-project questionnaires about teacher candidates’ civic knowledge and engagement; (2) online surveys containing open-ended reflection questions about their experiences after each of the three module presentations; (3) anecdotal observations, emails and discussions with the teacher candidates recorded by members of the research team; and, (4) the learning modules.