Chambers, D. J., & Lavery, S. D. (2012). Service-learning: A valuable component of pre-service teacher education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37 (4).
Since the late 1990s service-learning programs as a teaching pedagogy have become increasingly popular in Australia within primary, secondary and tertiary education (Lavery & Hackett, 2008; Service-Learning Australia Inc., 2010). However, such programs require a commitment to providing resources, staffing, finance and time, which may lead some to wonder about the importance of these programs (Karayan & Gathercoal, 2005). There is also the danger that, as service programs become more commonplace, they may well fade into the educational routine or become “another educational fad and another failed social program” (Rue, 1996, p. 246). Service-learning programs at a tertiary level within teacher education aim to give students a hands-on experience in an area that is potentially outside of their comfort zone (Colby, Bercaw, Clark & Galiardi, 2009). These programs encourage pre-service teachers to experience situations which allow them to grow as individuals and professionals. In particular, aspects of leadership, empathy, collaboration, community, knowledge and skills are developed (Kaye, 2004). In this article the authors explore and describe the experiences of pre-service teachers in the School of Education (UNDA) undertaking two service leaning units, with a view to interrogating ways these experiences can enhance pre-service teacher education.