University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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School of Education Receives
National Service-Learning Award

 MAILED:  Feb. 4, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is the 2004 recipient of the Best Practice Award for Service-Learning in Teacher Education from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education National Service-Learning in Teacher Education Partnership.

The national award, which recognizes exemplary practice in the use of service-learning in teacher education, will be accepted by Mark Clark, dean of the College of Professional Studies, and Katherine Rhoades, associate dean of Education, at the AACTE annual conference in Chicago Feb. 10.

The award recognizes how the School of Education has used UW-Eau Claire’s commitment to service-learning to develop and implement innovative service-learning opportunities for pre-service teachers, said Rhoades, who co-wrote the award proposal with Cynthia Gray-Mash, an associate professor.

UW-Eau Claire is one of only five public universities or colleges in the nation that requires students to engage in service-learning as a degree requirement. Students must engage in 30 hours of service, consult with faculty advisers before, during and after the experience, and write a reflection on the experience. Most students extend their time involvement far beyond the minimum.

UW-Eau Claire also is one of 147 public universities to participate in the American Democracy Project, coordinated by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, New York Times and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The project gives education students a foundation for building democratic classroom communities, engaging students through service learning and participating in change as educators, Rhoades said.

“This award demonstrates how the School of Education participates actively with the campus-wide service-learning and civic engagement mission,” Rhoades said. “Because it represents initiatives housed in all three departments in the School of Education (curriculum and instruction, foundations of education and special education), it is a school-wide honor. It honors our commitment and collaborations with multiple PK-12 schools and agencies within our regional community.”

The School of Education uses service-learning as a springboard for preparing pre-service teachers for a climate in which more K-12 schools require service on the part of their students, Rhoades said. “We believe that through their own service-learning experiences, pre-service teachers will be better prepared to plan, implement and evaluate service-learning in K-12 classrooms,” Rhoades wrote in a letter to the AACTE awards panel.

This belief is further supported by the school’s recently revised mission that is based on an overall commitment to educating quality teachers who are collaborative leaders.

“Faculty believe service-learning resides at the core of collaborative leadership principles and practices,” Rhoades wrote.

The School of Education communicates its commitment to service-learning by using students’ written reflections on service learning as they relate to the Wisconsin Teaching Standards, addressing the ability to assess and meet the needs of diverse learners as one assessment for admission to the elementary and special education programs.

Education students have engaged in thousands of hours of service-learning in area schools and agencies over several decades. They’ve assisted in Head Start classrooms and at an Ojibwa school on the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation, participated in Habitat for Humanity and community gardens, tutored students from the Ho Chunk Indian nation and the local Hmong community, participated in the Reading Partner Program and become leaders and mentors in the Jumpstart program, Rhoades said.

The four student education organizations engage in service-learning activities such as a Halloween Dance and Spring Formal for persons with disabilities and a program to provide books to children from low-income families.

A research project that assessed pre-service teachers’ written service-learning reflections over three-years showed teachers who engaged in an immersion service-learning experience gained the deepest understandings of the people with whom they interacted, Rhoades said.

The findings spurred the development of several innovative field-based service-learning opportunities including urban classrooms in Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County, Maryland and Chicago, and soup kitchens and community garden projects in Santa Fe, N.M.


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: February 4, 2004