The objective of this service-learning research project was to link Purdue University, a local elementary school, and the Greater Lafayette community to enhance K–12 students’ academic involvement. The participants involved were 36 preservice teachers from Purdue University, 12 faculty members from a local elementary school, and the students and parents affi liated with the elementary school. To answer the research question of how to bridge the cultural gap between students and teachers and using critical theory as the theoretical paradigm, the following methods were employed: interviews, classroom observations, involvement in an after-school program, and reflections of the experience. The preservice teachers interviewed and observed teachers within the school context and then made connections between what they were learning in their teacher education course at Purdue and what they heard and observed in the elementary classrooms, during the interviews, and at the afterschool activity. The preservice teachers also had conversations and wrote reflections about the differences they were finding. They also observed the challenges that arise when teachers instruct students from diverse backgrounds. Using this information, the Purdue students contributed to an after-school family event in which the students ran educational games for the elementary students. Following the event, the preservice students presented their feelings about the project to their peers and the potential strategies they believe the teachers could pursue. The results suggest that cultural differences within this context construct language barriers and instructional obstacles. However, increased communication and involvement between parents and teachers can bridge this gap.
"Community Involvement at an Elementary School: Cultural Differences and Their Effect on Education,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol1/iss1/2