Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1997





Publication Title

NSEE Quarterly


The purpose of this study is to examine the progress and the difficulties teachers encounter in implementing service-learning programs in an urban elementary school. The study characterizes each service-learning project using the Kahne and Westheimer (1996) service-learning goals matrix. Based on our investigation, most of the service-learning projects at the upper elementary level emphasize emotional intelligence such as character building, social reconstruction, and additive experience. In contrast, service-learning projects at the lower elementary level focused more on social reconstruction and academic knowledge. While most service-learning projects at the upper levels create learning opportunities for students, teachers rarely challenged students' thinking abilities, falling back to traditional teaching methods to do so. In sum, most service-learning projects promoted emotional intelligence; whereas very few projects challenged students' higher order thinking skills or provided transformative experience. However, standardized test scores show students who participated in service-learning programs did score higher than their counterparts in traditional classrooms.