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This project aligned a community college basic writing class with student-performed community service that was specifically literacy-based. The sample consisted of two writing classes, with data collected through an eighteen-week semester. The study was conducted according to qualitative methods and thus allowed for a close look at students' thinking about and understanding of literacy, and how changes in students' thinking about literacy reflected in their class experiences. One basic writing class was designated the service-Iearning class; the other basic writing class was designated the comparison class. Both classes shared the same instructor, texts, in-class activities and writing prompts. The service-learning class students, in addition, engaged in ten hours of community service by tutoring reading to a low-level English as a Second Language (ESL) reading class. Student tutors then reflected upon and discussed their service. Student tutors received four hours of in-class tutor training, and bad previously read the same novel that they subsequent tutored to ESL students.

The unit of analysis was the documentable change throughout the semester in students' thinking about and understanding of literacy. Analysis of data revealed a substantial increase in students' thinking about literacy. enhanced understanding of literacy issues, and an increase in students' collaborative effort. This study establishes a model program by which other basic writing instructors can develop course-appropriate basic writing service-learning components.


Copyright 2001 by Suzanne Dena Gates

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