Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"My Leadership Style Handbook" (after completion of a Leadership in Learning Organizations course)

            My leadership style draws from a variety of established organizational theories and styles and how these theories and styles work in combination.  I value leadership theories such as closed system theory, open system theory, anti-positivistic theory (strategic choice and critical theory), and thin-slicing as well as the transformational leadership style.  For purposes of this paper, I will explain my personal leadership style as it relates to my definition of leadership, case study examples of successful leaders, practical application of my leadership style, as well as the overarching idea of what I will be adding to my leadership “toolbox” after the conclusion of this course.
Defining Leadership
Those who are teachers would have to accommodate ourselves to lives as clerks or functionaries if we did not have in mind a quest for a better state of things for those we teach and for the world we all share. It is simply not enough for us to reproduce the way things are. (Maxine Greene)

Before this course, my definition of leadership was abstract.  Looking back at my previous response to the question, “What is leadership from your perspective?” I felt as though my response was vague and unclear.  I stated the following in response to this question:
In my perspective, there is a difference between someone who is in a leadership position and one who defines the essence of leadership; those that take command and are natural leaders that others will follow, either by example, by virtue, by vision, etc.  For instance, many individuals find themselves in leadership positions without actually thinking about what a leader means and what their personal philosophy or approach to leadership may be.  How are these individuals’ effective leaders if they are not developing their cognitive awareness about what leading others means or encouraging/motivating their staff to develop their own leadership skills?  On the other hand, there are those individuals that may not necessarily hold a “leadership” position or job title, but are leaders in their personal, social, or community lives.  A quote that rings true about this concept is: “Does what you do reflect who you are and where you want to go?” (Lee & King, 2001), or put another way, does what you do as a leader reflect who you are and where you want your organization/institution, family, relationships, community, etc. to go?

Now, after taking this course, I feel as though my definition of leadership is more concrete and refined.  Throughout the rest of this section, I will provide a definition of leadership as it relates to specific organizational theories and leadership styles that will be added to my leadership “toolbox.”
Closed System Versus Open System Theories
Frederick Taylor is known for inspiring the scientific management movement, which is one machine theory underneath the umbrella of closed system theory.  Machine theory focuses on “ignoring worker needs and conceptualize organization and leadership much as one would approach the management of machinery” (Marion, 2002, p. 21), hence its name.  According to Taylor, the most efficient method for performing a task was only part of the process, and that management techniques needed to be developed in order for standardized procedures to be carried out (Marion, 2002).  From this and his “time and motion” studies, Taylor conceptualized his work into four main principles.  They are as follows:
1.     Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
2.     Scientifically select, train, and develop each worker rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
3.     Cooperate with the workers to ensure that the scientifically developed methods are being followed.
4.     Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks. (Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, 2010)

Taylor’s ideas have been used in a variety of business settings, like in automobile factories such as Ford (Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, 2010), but with little implication for education.
            Taylor’s ideas of management set the scene for others whom followed machine theory, especially with regard to education.  John Dewey, for example, is responsible for creating a decision-making model that approaches workflow in much the same way as Taylor; however, his meaning of workflow was specific to public education instruction (Marion, 2002).  According to Dewey, genuine educational goals come from within a person, and from the person’s own activity in the environment.  The sole goal of education is growth, which means, “that a person is learning more effective, meaningful, and satisfying ways to live, in order to deal with a changing reality and direct the course of her or his own life” (Gutek, 2004, p. 76).  He contended that if students learned by experience, then they would not only gain knowledge, but would develop skills, habits, and attitudes necessary in solving a wide variety of problems.  He put the “learner in the learning” (Terry, 2006).  That is, he involved the learner in the learning process, which for the first time, connected the student to their environment and allowed the student to see how their interests, needs, or problems connected to their education.  Therefore, instead of the learner’s actions being interpreted by others, the learner is interpreting their own actions and determining the correct decision to be made based upon their own thought process (Terry, 2006). 
            According to Dewey, real thinking occurs when we use the scientific method to solve problems.  The following is Dewey’s five-step adaptation of the scientific method or a model for decision-making that he termed The Complete Act of Thought:
1.     Identify a problem
2.     Analyze the problem by figuring out what is blocking our ongoing activity
3.     Brainstorm all possible solutions to the problem even if they seem “off the wall”
4.     Analyze each possible solution, considering the pros and cons of each
5.     Choose a decision after weighing the pros and cons of each and carry out the best plan of action.  If the desired outcome does not occur, then one cannot move forward until it is solved.  Therefore, to solve the problem, the process needs to be reviewed again, changes need to be made, and the process needs to be completed over again.

Therefore, based on Dewey’s rendition of the scientific method, our thinking is complete when we test our ideas.  From this, we arrive at the most effective method of teaching and learning which is process-based problem solving.  A method that can be applied to different types of problems that occur, no matter the magnitude.  Hence, problem solving, according to the scientific method, requires individuals to act and judge a solution by its consequences, whether that individual is a student, teacher, or administrator (Gutek, 2004). 
            However, there are several assumptions associated with closed system theories.  As with Taylor, Dewey, and machine theory, they assume there is one best solution to any problem and the scientific method is the way in which to solve the problem.  That is, they assume there is only one optimal process for making decisions and carrying out managerial procedures.  All relevant variables of and within the problem can be known and controlled.  This which over-simplifies the decision-making process, when in reality, the process of decision-making is complicated with complex causations and multiple goals or agendas.  Closed system theories ultimately assume that all “goals and causations are manageable…[and that all] problems can be logically solved” (Marion, 2002, p. 27).  Meaning, with regard to organizational management, “efficiency is the only organizational concern, and if science can answer all questions of efficiency, then solutions to problems can be clearly mapped and rational decisions can be formulated” (Marion, 2002, p. 27). 
            Moreover, there are other drawbacks to closed system theory.  While Taylor and Dewey’s ideas improved productivity, it also increased the boredom or dullness of the work.  There were several core job dimensions such as skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback that were missing from scientific management.  All of which are important aspects of the job that managers need to address and be aware of when leading others (Internet Center for Management and Business Administration, 2010).
In open systems theory, Jacob Getzels and Egon Guba are best known for their model of social behavior in educational organizations.  Their model is termed the Getzels-Guba model.  The first version of this model was presented in 1965, and focused on the organization as a social system that included both elements of psychology (individual) and sociology (group).  They defined social system as “the interdependence of parts, their integration into some sort of whole, and the intrinsic presence of both individuals and institutions” (Marion, 2002, p. 98).  From this, two dimensions of social activity were termed, nomothetic and idiographic.  Nomothetic structures refer to generalized phenomena and described in terms of “laws”, while idiographic structures refer to phenomena that cannot be generalized and are locally defined and meaningful.  According to Getzels and Guba, institutions are “purposive (established to carry out goals), peopled (actors with functions to perform), structured (actors are organized by rules), normative (there are expected modes of behavior), and sanction-bearing (having the capability to enforce norms)” (Marion, 2002, p. 99).  These institutions produce a variety of organizational roles, which are defined as expected behavior rather than actual behavior.  Therefore, it is the discrepancy between the expected and actual role that managers use to evaluate the performance of their workers. 
As time passed, their model was revised to include culture, an environmental dimension, making this model first a closed system theory and after revision, an open system theory.  Then, their model was revised yet again and the dimension of culture was changed to community with numerous interactive subcommunities termed “collective identities.” 
There are many pros of Getzels-Guba’s model with regard to education.  One is its inclusion of community relations and how to assess the community or group needs.  By understanding these needs, leaders can better serve the organization’s community members outside of the institution.  According to this model, there are three levels of evaluation; first, community or cultural level, second, a specific group (nomothetic) level, and lastly, an individual (idiographic) level.  A positive is that assessments for each of these three levels account for the complexities that surround the decision-making process for leaders using a combination of strategies (i.e., survey questionnaires, focus groups, examination of documents, and interaction with the community) rather than just one strategy like that of Taylor and Dewey.  Therefore, leaders whom follow the Getzels-Guba’s model are able to take the surrounding community into account when they make any type of decision with respect to their organization. 
There are critiques of the Getzels-Guba model with regard to multicultural issues.  One issue related to this model is that it fails to include or notice the female experience with respect to work on role and role conflict.  According to Shakeshaft and Nowell (1984), Getzels-Guba’s idea of social behavior excludes family altogether.  They assume that women are not workers within the organization; they are “keepers of the private realm” (p. 190) and the work of the organization is populated by males and only includes male concerns.  However, when the female experience is mentioned, they fail to include the possible conflicts females have that are different than males, like that of the conflict between a females role of a mother and their responsibilities related to work (Shakeshaft & Nowell, 1984). 
There are implications of both closed and open systems theories in relation to educational leadership.  In a closed system, managing tasks and supervising people follow an authoritative style of leadership, where there is clearly a superior with several subordinates underneath.  As Taylor found from his research, workers began “soldering” or banning together to work against the boss so that none of them would receive negative consequences, so they all produced the same results.  While on the other hand, in an open system, more of an authoritarian style of leadership is used, making workers more motivated.  In addition, it followed more of an open communication style, where workers were able to directly speak with their superiors if there were problems, rather than in a closed system, where workers did not have the ability to directly voice their concerns with their bosses.
     Summary.  There are several aspects of closed system theory and open system theory that interest me.  The most interesting aspect of closed system theory is Dewey’s concept of putting the “learner in the learning.”  That is, the fact that students learn best when they are in charge of thinking for themselves and applying what they learn in the classroom to a real-world experience.  With regard to open system theory, the most interesting aspect is that life roles outside of work affect a workers performance, that there is not a way to separate the role of work with other life roles.
Strategic Choice Theory
            Strategic choice theory is under the anti-positivist theory umbrella.  Anti-positivist theories are dramatically different than closed and open system theories, because they require a new way of thinking.  Anti-positivist theories presume that organizational structure and behavior is unstable as it is largely determined by “humanness, beliefs, culture, and philosophies” (Marion, 2002, p. 165) rather than determined by a science.  In short, open system and closed system theories focus on predestination, while anti-positivist theories focus on free will (Marion, 2002). 
There are several implications of strategic theory as it relates to educational leadership.  First, with regard to decision-making, leaders need to understand that one simple answer does not exist.  When managers make decisions that have “unilateral causations, independent and dependent variables, origins, and terminations” (Marion, 2002, p. 177), they just make things more difficult on themselves.  In reality, there are no simple answers to questions especially in relation to human behavior.  Rather, Cohen, March, and Olsen (1972) (as cited by Marion, 2002), compared decision-making to a garbage can and states that there are four streams that swirl within it.  First, is fluid participation, which refers to the idea that there are typically random participants involved in the decision-making process, and they are often entangled accidentally.  Second, there are choice opportunities or situations where choices must and can be made.  Third and fourth, solutions (third) and problems (fourth) move in and out of the decision-makers vision, and often they are unrelated until someone links them together.  Therefore, leaders need to specifically be aware of the latter and need to be able to maintain a “full and dynamic supply of solutions” (Marion, 2002, p. 179), in fact, as the common phrase states, the more the merrier, in order to be successful. 
Second, with regard to learning and how communication is disbursed, when one speaks of successful leaders, excellent communication skills are always mentioned.  But, what does this mean exactly?  What are the communication skills successful leaders possess?  Marion (2002) crystallizes this notion and mentions that leaders need to learn the “tricks of the trade” or the “quirks of their raw material” (p. 184).  These “tricks” are the following:
1) Know what to pay attention to and what not to
2) Know whom to approach to acquire information and how to approach them
3) Knowledge of what has been done, what needs to be done, and what should not be done
4) Knowledge of actions that cause trouble and learned to avoid them
5) Possess acquired expertise of what their responsibilities are and what they are not
6) Learn shortcuts, “know the ropes,” and how to be effective in their positions (Marion, 2002)

These specific communication skills are needed in order to become a successful leader.
Third, with regard to problem-solving versus problem-finding, leaders need to have an intuitive sense of what it means to be a “problem-solver” or a “problem-finder.”  Problem-solvers are those leaders that deal with problems as they arise.  They typically spend lots of time running from one problem to another without being able to settle on a routine.  While on the other hand, problem-finders are those leaders that learn how to structure their activities so that they neutralize many problems before they even arise.  They can do this in several ways, such as, via rules and regulations, learning to anticipate problems before they happen, or establishing certain expectations of their subordinates and fostering dependable behaviors in themselves.  However, as with the most experienced great leaders, they are unable to specifically pinpoint how they are problem-finders instead of problem-solvers.  Therefore, as leaders mature, they will learn how to function within their organization and the organization will learn how to function with its leader, and as a result, both leader and organization become exponentially effective (Marion, 2002).  A prime example of a leader who practiced strategic choice theory is Paul Van Riper, a great military leader.  He was notorious for being a problem-finder instead of a problem-solver.  Below is his story.
     Paul Van Riper Paul Van Riper was a highly decorated United States Marine who participated in many tours during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.  After his first tour in Vietnam, he returned a second time, this time as a commander of Mike Company (Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division).  He was a tall and lean man with a rough, commanding voice.  He was once described by his gunnery sergeant in Mike Company as
Concise. Confident, without a lot of icing on the cake. That’s how he was, and he maintained that every day of the war.  He had an office in our combat area…but he was never there.  He was always out in the field or out near his bunker, figuring out what to do next.  If he had an idea and he had a scrap of paper in his pocket, he would write the idea on the scrap, and then, when we had a meeting, he would pull our seven or eight little pieces of paper.  Once he and I were in the jungle a few yards away from a river, and he wanted to reconnoiter over certain areas, but he couldn’t get the view he wanted.  The bush was in the way.  Damned if he didn’t take off his shoes, dive into the river, swim out to the middle, and tread water so he could see downstream. (Gladwell, 2005, p. 100)

He was known to be strict, fair, and a student of war with clear ideas about how his men should conduct themselves when in combat, and was always aggressive but in a way that his men had no problems with doing what he asked them to do.  His gunnery sergeant can remember one time when he received a call from Van Riper in the middle of the night when his squad was out on a night ambush.  Van Riper told him that one hundred and twenty-one Vietnamese were heading toward the squad surrounding them and it was his job to resist them.  He claimed that he told Van Riper that there were only nine of them and his response was that “he would bring out a reactionary force if [he] needed one” (Gladwell, 2005, p. 101).  There was no doubt in Van Riper’s mind that his gunnery sergeant’s squad had to engage the surrounding Vietnamese.  No matter when Van Riper was leading, the enemy was always “put off by his tactics” (Gladwell, 2005, p. 101).  Van Riper was not a ‘live and let live’ kind of leader (Gladwell, 2005). 
            Van Riper was the type of leader that told his team at the beginning of battle that he would be in command and out of control.  What he meant by this is that he and his senior leadership would provide the overall guidance and intent, however, when in the field, the team would be left to use their own intuition and innovations to move themselves forward.  They would not depend on orders from the top.  That the team would be able to use the wisdom, experience, and the good judgment they possessed to make decisions.  When it comes to war, the team should not sit back and wait to get in touch with him to discuss a rational process of decision-making for action, it was this that would get the team killed.  Rather, when in battle, the team needed to make decisions based upon sizing up the situation immediately and acting on the situation immediately by drawing upon their own experience and intuition.  Hence, when a leader focuses on mechanics and the process they are not looking at the problem holistically.  Therefore, “in the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning” (Gladwell, 2005, p. 125).  In sum, Van Riper strategy during battle is a practical example of how strategic choice theory can be demonstrated with regard to an implemented leadership style. 
     Summary.  There are several aspects of strategic choice theory that interest me.  The most interesting aspect of strategic choice theory is what it does for workers.  That is, it allows for workers to make their own decisions based upon their knowledge and experiences.  It gives workers freedom and the ability to choose.  To decide for themselves how decisions should be made.  Therefore, strategic choice theory in my personal opinion is highly valuable with regard to leadership effectiveness.  It fosters the development and self-esteem in its workers by allowing them to do the work the way they feel it is done best.  Overall, this leadership style builds motivated and confident staff.
Critical Theory
            Critical theory is anti-positivistic, but a little different than other anti-positivistic theories.  Critical theory focuses on “what organizational control does to people” and not “about how to control organizations and increase productivity” (Marion, 2002, p. 252).  Although there are several organizational theories that take a more humanistic approach, critical theorists argue that these theories take an elitist perspective when leading staff.  Therefore, critical theory exposes the abuse suffered by staff from this elitist perspective and provides an alternative that is more democratic in nature and models an egalitarian methodology.  Ultimately, critical theory combats the elitist perspective not in regards to profit, but rather in regards to power and how those in power promote the oppression of their workers (Marion, 2002). 
            There are several traditional leadership strategies critical theorists oppose.  First, they do not believe in management by objectives.  The idea that worker performance is evaluated at the end of each cycle based upon formulated individual work objectives with input from administrators.  Critical theorists believe this just a ruse for advancing the power preferences of leaders.  Second, with regard to educational mentoring, typically new teachers are paired with experienced teachers.  Based upon self-examinations and self-reflections with regard to teaching effectiveness, the ideas from the new teacher may not be heard by the experienced teacher, because the experienced teacher is more concerned with teaching effectiveness as outlined by district policy.  Therefore, the new teacher eventually becomes a “district clone” (Marion, 2002, p. 263).  Third, critical theorists argue that strategic planning, which is a rational process, controls organizational behavior by controlling the language of how participants within the organization define their activities or goals.  Control over the language of proposed goals not only influences the objectives of the organization, but also shapes the worldview or minds of participants.  Fourth, critical theorists believe that team-based, decentralized decision making and empowerment management strategies are in fact effective at increasing productivity, however, they do this at the expense of exploiting worker morale and stress levels.  Last, with enhanced technology, workers are many times deceived in believing that management trusts their work performance, all while workers are being surveillanced.  One example of this would be the standardized test movement, where the reputation of low scores hangs over educators’ heads.  The threat of administrators or colleagues coming into the classroom for instance on a whim to report deviancy is always in the back of an educators mind if their classroom is known for producing low test scores (Marion, 2002).  In sum, critical theorists believe many traditional organizational theories oppress some groups and not others by their practical applications, whether they are aware they are doing this or not.  Therefore, critical theorists primary focus is to show how each of these theories is flawed and how traditional theories’ practices need to be re-evaluated.
            I feel as though critical theory plays an important role in terms of leadership and organizational morality.  Morality is at the heart of critical theory.  Critical theorists believe that social organizations are designed to serve the elite class and that other groups whom are non-dominant are systematically excluded from full and satisfying participation in society.  They believe that organizational managements primary objective is to have efficient production and control subordinates, when it should be focused on providing fulfilling work experiences for workers.  Elites are self-serving and immoral.  Ultimately, elites are opportunists with the mentality that no matter the circumstance, they are going to get what they want and serve their own needs first rather than serving the needs of those working for them (Marion, 2002).   Therefore, I feel as though critical theory is important with regard to successful leadership in relation to social justice.
Thin-Slicing Theory
As briefly aforementioned in the section discussion of Strategic Choice Theory and Paul Van Riper, thin-slicing theory, which is closely related, is a concept that refers to an ability of our unconscious to determine patterns of behavior by just “narrow slices of experience” (Gladwell, 2005, p. 23).  Gladwell (2005) states, “And the truth is that our unconscious is really good at this, to the point where thin-slicing often delivers a better answer than more deliberative and exhaustive ways to thinking” (p. 34). 
Gladwell (2005) also discusses thin-slicing in terms of how we as human beings do not listen to that “gut instinct” of ours most of the time.  We tend to overanalyze situations and experiences believing that the more thought we put into something, the better the results.  Another interesting point Gladwell (2005) argues is related to subjectivity during a professionals’ early career.  That is, he states,
Ortiz’s explanation is that Langlotz had bought the sculpture as a very young man, before he acquired much of his formidable expertise…[he] fell in love with this piece; when you are a young man, you do fall in love with your first purchase, and perhaps this was his first love.  Notwithstanding his unbelievable knowledge, he was obviously unable to question his first assessment (p. 15). 

It was the cause of love that drove him to believe that the statue was real.  He did not rely on his “gut instinct” or knowledgeable self to determine if the statue was real at the very beginning, rather, he relied on his over-analysis in making the decision.  Therefore, Gladwell (2005) introduced the fact that instead of relying on the scientific method for problem-solving that is popularly taught, one should rely on the feelings of our bodies within the first few seconds to determine our reactions.  For the latter gives us the true objectivity we need to arrive at a decision.  If we wait too long to make a decision, then we slowly lose our objectivity and our reactions become more subjective.           
Transformational Leadership
            The primary focus of transformational leadership is for leaders to build a relationship with their workers via mutual stimulation and evaluation for purposes of converting followers into leaders.  Leaders not only play to their wants or desires but to there followers’ wants or desires as well, which is similar to the aforementioned focus of critical theory.  It basically follows the familiar phrase, “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.”  Transformational leadership conjoins the “systemsworld” with the “lifeworld.”  As a result, there are key multicultural dynamics and leadership considerations.  For example, it allows schools to not only focus on the child’s academics as influenced only by the school, but how their home life contributes to their academics as well.   This can have positive and negative effects.  Either the home life can help or hinder the student’s academic development.  This reminds me of conversations in other classes involving this topic in relation to how a student’s home life can have devastating effects on a student’s academic development.  Many students who come from low-income families struggle excelling academically because of the home life pressures that are placed on them.  For instance, I have heard several students state, “we [my family and I] focus on surviving not studying.”  When we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, how do educators foster a student’s development in school when the student and their family are focused more on their basic needs, like food, water, shelter, etc. rather than “extra” needs like that of education?  How do you convince parents of the benefit of education in the long-term when they live in the short-term?  Transformational leadership ultimately focuses on balancing workers “home-life” needs with their “work-life” needs in combination rather than separation.   
            Overall, there are many theories, influential leaders, and forms of leadership that have shaped what I feel needs to be included in my leadership “toolbox.”  Each of these have been aforementioned and described in detail as separate entities.  The next section, My Leadership “Toolbox”: Practical Application, will discuss my leadership style as it uses the aforementioned theories, influential leaders, and forms of leadership in combination for practical application.
My Leadership “Toolbox”: Practical Application
We are freed when we begin to put justice, heartfelt relationships and the service of others and of truth over and above our own needs for love, success, or our fears of failure. (Jean Vanier)

The relationship between theory and practice is a difficult relationship to explain.  Up to this point, I would comment on what their relationship is not; not one of causality, linearity, or stability.  Meaning, one does not cause the other, their interactions are not linear, and the relationship is sometimes, but not always stable.  Therefore, based upon the “nots,” I believe that theory and practice are related by the way organizational leaders take action (practice) based upon certain premises (theory).  That is, a theory “sets up” the scene(s) so that actors can “act out” the scene(s).  But, sometimes the actors have to adapt and “act out” the scene(s) even when a theory fails to “set up” the scene(s) correctly.  Ultimately, as mentioned in Marion (2002), “the personality of an organization…is in what it does (the operative goals) and not necessarily in what is professes to do” (p. 69).  This is why it is important for school/college administrators to really think about their strategic plans and if this is what is being promoted on campus within each division and within each department and/or program.  In sum, are we as administrators fostering a “true” relationship between theory and practice?  Or are we fostering a “false” relationship where the action-taking place is not agreeing with strategies that have been laid out? 
The “true” relationship between theory and practice needs to include a combination of approaches, as addressed aforementioned in the defining leadership section, in order for one to lead others.  Therefore, in building my leadership “toolbox,” I would include the following: 
1)    Effective communication
2)    Clear, concise expectations of workers
3)    Presence known; high visibility
4)    Implementing research skills for the betterment of decision-making
5)    Being organized
6)    Possess excellent conflict resolution strategies
7)    Lead by example
8)    Consistently developing my awareness
9)    Be available for workers to express ideas and needs
10) Foster an open environment so workers feel comfortable in sharing their stories
11) Build rapport with workers; get to know them on a personal level
12) Provide timely feedback
13) Be strict, but fair
14) Be structured, but flexible
15) Being able to see the forest and the trees; see the big picture and the details
16) Instilling worker motivation and building worker self-confidence via “easy” monitoring and regulation
17) Possess vision for the direction of the organization and to articulate and infuse my vision into the purpose of the organization
18) Being transparent, possessing a high level of integrity, and promoting accountability
19) Possessing rational and irrational decision-making skills
20) Value independent worker tasks as well as collaborative worker tasks

Does what you do reflect who you are and where you want to go?
 (Lee and King, 2001, p. 11)

The framework I have used in developing my personal leadership style includes dynamics of my vision for the future, the values I find significant, finding balance and the art of moderation, and being self-aware (Lee & King, 2001).  Ultimately, we as leaders need to ask ourselves the above question “does what you do reflect who you are and where you want to go?” and do you lead by virtue of who you are?
Dewey, J. (2009). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York, NY: WLC Books. (Original work published 1916)
Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.
Gutek, G. L. (2004). Philosophical and ideological voices in education. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Internet Center for Management and Business Administration. (2010). Retrieved from:
Lee, R. J. & King, S.N. (2001). Discovering the leader in you. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Marion, R. (2002). Leadership in education: Organizational theory for the practitioner. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Shakeshaft, C. & Nowell, I. (1984). Research on theories, concepts, and models of organizational behavior: The influence of gender. Issues in Education, 11(3), 186-203.
Terry, A. (2006). A K-12 developmental service-learning typology. International Journal of Learning, 12(9), 321-330.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Efficacy of Service-Learning for the United States K-12 Public School System and the Successful Implementation by Teacher Leaders: A Literature Review

The United States K-12 public school system faces a dilemma with regard to teaching methodology.  With the constant increase of diverse students entering K-12 public school systems, teacher’s jobs are more challenging.  How are teachers supposed to teach a diverse classroom effectively?  For decades, researchers have examined this dilemma and come to a variety of conclusions.  One conclusion, and the focus of this paper, is a teaching strategy that allows students to find a real-world connection to the material taught in the classroom, a strategy that has been effective in Japan, one of the world’s top countries in education (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007).  For example For instanceen found quite effectiveiverse classroom effectifly?, Mayer, Sims, and Tajika (1995) examined the comparison of how textbooks teach mathematical problem solving in Japan versus in the United States.  Their findings suggest that mathematics teaching in Japan is in part more successful than the United States, because Japanese textbooks provide students with concrete analogies that connect the material being taught to familiar life situations, while textbooks in the United States do not.  Thus, as teachers and current educational leaders, how do we change our teaching methodologies to adapt to the needs of an increasing diverse student population entering the K-12 public school system so that all students learn effectively?  This paper addresses this question by introducing an intervention strategy known as service-learning in an attempt to build students’ connections with material taught in the classroom to real-world situations for purposes of learning efficacy for diverse student populations.  However, this paper does not infer that this method is the sole intervention needed to solve this public school system issue; rather it suggests a method for small but significant educational reform.
Defining Service-Learning
There are numerous definitions of service-learning in the literature.  For example, The National Society for Experiential Education (1994) defines service-learning as “any carefully monitored service experience in which a student has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience,” while The Corporation for National Service (1990) has an even more specific definition, which is as follows:
The term “service-learning” means a method under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that:
·               is conducted in and meets the needs of a community;
·      is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community-service program and with the community;
·               helps foster civic responsibility;
·      is integrated into and enhances the (core) academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community-service program in which the participants are enrolled; and
·      provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect of the service experience.
However, for purposes of this paper, our definition is more simplistic.  We will define service-learning, as adapted from Billig (2000), as a teaching strategy that clearly ties community-service experiences to classroom instruction.  Service-learning will not focus on civic engagement like most of the research, but rather will focus on its importance related to learning for students from diverse populations. 
Foundations for the Development of Service-Learning
There are many researchers involved in the development of service-learning.  However, two researchers in particular have had a strong influence on the formation of this teaching strategy.  They are John Dewey (1954), who was influential in the development of the Pragmatic philosophy, and Jean Piaget (1950), who developed the Theory of Cognitive Development.  Furthermore, they, among several others, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, and Ulrick Neisser, formed the basis of the constructivist theory of learning and instruction (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).  However, for purposes of this paper, we will be discussing Dewey and Piaget with respect to the foundations of development for service-learning. 
John Dewey 
Dewey, along with two other American philosophers, Charles S. Peirce and William James, developed a new philosophy in the early 20th century called Pragmatism.  It emphasized the practical application of ideas by testing them in human experience, which opposed earlier philosophical theories that focused on a metaphysical system.  According to Pragmatists, ideas are not universal concepts and do not transcend human experience, rather, they are instruments for solving life’s problems (Gutek, 2004).  This theory, in particular, is significant to education in the United States, because it fits well with the American outlook and temperament, especially our tendency for action, practicality, and experimentation (Gutek, 2004). 
Dewey had significant influences on education with his variety of Pragmatism.  His version is termed either Experimentalism or Instrumentalism.  According to Experimentalism, “we think most accurately and completely when we use the experimental, or scientific, method to test an idea to see if it works, solves our problem, and brings about the results we want” (Gutek, 2004, p. 71).  This is formulated in Dewey’s The Complete Act of Thought (Gutek, 2004), which will be discussed later.  
Specifically, Pragmatists are concerned with ideas that differ from previous theories.  First, with regard to metaphysics, Dewey believed the universe is in constant flux and change, and the methods for solving problems should be flexible.  That is, individuals should arrive at flexible hypotheses or answers that can be revised, and reformulated to meet the changing situations during the course of human life.  Second, with regard to epistemology, Dewey believed in what he termed experience.  It is the process of interaction that occurs between the human and the environment.  Therefore, humans’ essential problems exist between the transactions or interactions they have with their environment.  Will these interactions enhance or sustain survival and make life satisfying?  This is the question we, as humans, need to address.  Third, with regard to axiology, Dewey and Pragmatists argue that human values arise as we find these survival enhancements and satisfying ways to live that enrich our experience.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of the teacher to aid students in examining and clarifying their values.  Lastly, with regard to logic, they rely on empirical verification, which validates ideas presented in human experience by scientifically testing them.  This rejects deductive reasoning and is essentially inductive (Gutek, 2004).   
In sum, Pragmatism has identified three important principles: (1) in order for our ideas to be validated, they need to be tested empirically in actual human experience; (2) experience results when the person has an interaction with his or her environment; and (3) during the course of experience or environmental interaction, the person encounters new challenges that block ongoing experience or activity (Gutek, 2004).  
The Complete Act of Thought.  Based upon the aforementioned principles, we can now discuss how we go about solving problems.  According to Dewey, real thinking occurs when we use the scientific method to solve problems.  The following is Dewey’s five-step adaptation of the scientific method, which he termed The Complete Act of Thought (Gutek, 2004):
1.  Individuals are in a problematic situation when ongoing activity is blocked by running into something new and different, which is a “deviant” from our experience.

2.  In order to figure out what is blocking our ongoing activity, we need to reflect on the situation and define the problem.

3.  Once the problem is identified, we can begin to examine it.  We can look back to our experiences and see how our problem compares, whether it is similar or different from what we have experienced.  Here we can utilize our critical thinking and research skills by visiting the library or using the Internet to gather information or discuss our problem with close family and friends who have experienced it.

4.  After research is completed, we can begin to think about potential ways to solve the problem by brainstorming alternative modes of action.  Here we can work out the potential modes of action in our minds and think of potential consequences or outcomes, and more specific, which outcome has the most desirable consequences. 

5.  After all above steps have been carried out, we have a potential mode of action.  However, it is in this step where we complete this process by choosing the best alternative and testing it by acting on it in hopes that this alternative brings about the desired outcome.  If it does not, then we cannot move forward in our experience until it is solved.  Therefore, in order to solve the problem, we need to review the process, make the needed changes, and try it again.

Therefore, based upon Dewey’s rendition of the scientific method, our thinking is complete when we can test our ideas.  From this, we arrive at the most effective method of teaching and learning which is process-based problem solving.  A method that can be applied to different types of problems that occur, no matter the magnitude.  Hence, problem solving, according to the scientific method, requires individuals to act and judge a solution by its consequences (Gutek, 2004).
Educational Implications.  As aforementioned, Dewey is a highlighted theorist because of his influence on the philosophical basis of service-learning within the larger scope of education.  His philosophies of education differ than previous philosophies in terms of its goals and purposes of education, role of a school, and curriculum. 
According to Dewey, genuine educational goals come from within a person, and from the person’s own activity in the environment.  The sole goal of education is growth, which means “that a person is learning more effective, meaningful, and satisfying ways to live, in order to deal with a changing reality and direct the course of her or his own life” (Gutek, 2004, p. 76). 
Dewey’s concept of the role of the school is that it serves as a social agency.  A social agency that (a) simplifies the complexity of cultural and social heritage, (b) purifies the heritage by emphasizing positive elements, and (c) integrates the heritage.  The school, itself, should be designed with the idea that teachers and students are a community who mutually are engaged in the learning process.  It is a specialized environment where experiences are broken down, cleaned up, and equalized.  Since the environment is inherently complex, experiences are broken down based upon students’ readiness and their own interests.  Experiences are cleaned up when the school does not feed those experiences that are harmful to students and hinder their potential for growth.  Lastly, experiences are equalized by showing students how one experience affects and can lead to another experience (Gutek, 2004). 
With regard to curriculum, Dewey and other Pragmatists believe curriculum should not be planned.  Rather, curriculum should be derived from students’ experiences or their interests, needs, and problems.  According to Dewey, there are three stages of curriculum.  First, making and doing, this makes learning direct and active.  At this stage, students establish a problem, form hypotheses to resolve the problem, carry out the appropriate research, and act on the selected hypothesis to test it in experience.  Second, history and geography, which involves students’ conceptions of space (place) and time (past-present-future).  This is an important stage, because when students complete activities at this stage, they begin to understand these concepts in relation to human experience.  In that, students learn that “things that happened, are happening, and will happen” (Gutek, 2004, p. 77) as well as the notion of settings and environments of human places as interrelationships of space.  Lastly, the third stage is science, which refers to bodies of tested hypotheses in various areas of human cognition, research, and venture.  It is in this stage when student’s make generalizations in which to base actions.  However, note that these various sciences are not final or fixed truths; rather, they are tentative and are subject to future research and possible changes. 
In conclusion, Dewey is an influential figure to service-learning because of the significance he placed on interaction with the environment to learning and the idea that education depended upon action (Terry, 2006).  That is, his focus on active learning and learning being purpose-driven (Billig, 2000) was influential because it aided in the development of student’s critical thinking skills (Terry, 2006).  Furthermore, Dewey contended that if students learned by experience, then they would not only gain knowledge, but would develop skills, habits, and attitudes necessary in solving a wide variety of problems.  Simply, Dewey and Pragmatists, put the “learner in the learning” (Terry, 2006).  That is, they involved the learner in the learning process, which for the first time, connected the student to their environment, and allowed the student to see how their interests, needs, or problems connected to their education.  Hence, allowing students the opportunity to apply what they learned in class to real-world situations.  Therefore, instead of the learner’s actions being interpreted by others, the learner is interpreting their own actions and determining the correct decision to be made based upon their own thought processes (Terry, 2006).
Jean Piaget 
Piaget was one of the most influential researchers in the field of developmental psychology during the 20th century.  His original training was in the areas of biology and philosophy.  His main interests were in how we as organisms come to know, and that the distinguishing factor between human beings and animals is our ability to do “abstract symbolic reasoning” (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 
While working in Paris, Piaget became interested in how children think.  He noticed the differences between young children and older children’s responses on the Binet IQ Test.  This did not suggest to him that the younger children were dumber than the older children were, but rather, younger children responded to the questions differently because they thought differently.  From this, Piaget developed the Theory of Cognitive Development, which focuses on the following two major aspects: (1) the process of coming to know, and (2) the stages we move through as we gradually acquire this ability (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development has significant influences on education, because of its explanation of children’s’ thinking processes and development.  It provided a concrete tool for educators to understand how children thought according to age range.    
Process of Cognitive DevelopmentWith Piaget’s work in the field of biology, he termed what he called intelligence as how an organism adapts to its environment.  Behavior (i.e., adaptation to the environment), therefore, is controlled by mental organizations called schemes.  Schemes are what individuals use to represent the world and designate action.  This adaptation is motivated by a biological drive to obtain balance between schemes and the environment, which he termed equilibration (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).
Piaget posited that infants are born with schemes operating from the time they are born, which he called reflexes.  Reflexes control behavior throughout life for other animals, but for human beings they are used differently.  Infants use these reflexes to adapt to the environment, then as the infant adapts, these reflexes are quickly replaced with constructed schemes (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 
There are two processes used by human beings in an attempt to adapt to their environment.  One is assimilation and the other is accommodation.  Both are used throughout life, as an individual continually has to adapt to their environment in ways that are more complex.  The first process, assimilation, is the process of twisting the environment so that it can be placed into the individual’s preexisting cognitive structures.  For example, when an infant uses a sucking schema that was developed by sucking on a small bottle and uses this schema to attempt to suck on a larger bottle.  The second process, accommodation, is the process of changing cognitive structures in order to accept something from the environment.  For example, when a child needs to modify a sucking schema developed by sucking on a pacifier to one that would fit successfully for sucking on a bottle.  Both of these processes are used simultaneously and alternatively during the course of an individual’s lifetime (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 
Furthermore, structures are formed when schemes become increasingly more complex throughout life, and become responsible for behaviors that are more complex.  It follows deductive reasoning or general to specific logic.  That is, as one’s structures become more complex, they become organized in a hierarchical manner (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 
Stages of Cognitive DevelopmentPiaget identified four stages of cognitive development.  Within each of these stages are several substages.  For purposes of this paper, we will only address the four stages in general; each stage in its entirety will not be discussed in detail.  The four stages are as follows:
1.            Sensorimotor stage.  From birth to age two years, the infant is centered on trying to make sense of the world.  During this stage, an infant’s knowledge of the world is limited (but developing) and based upon sensory perceptions and motor activities.  Behaviors are limited to simple motor responses caused by sensory stimuli (Wagner, 2005).  By the end of this stage, children have acquired skills and abilities associated with memory, mobility, and language (Huitt & Hummel, 2003) in an attempt to learn more about their environment (Wagner, 2005).

2.            Pre-operational stage.  This stage occurs between ages two and six years.  One of the hallmarks of this stage is language development (Wagner, 2005).  Intelligence is demonstrated by the use of symbols, memory and imagination (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).  However, children at this stage do not yet understand concrete logic and are unable to see the viewpoint of others, which he termed egocentrism (Wagner, 2005).  This thinking dominates at this stage.

3.            Concrete operational stage.  This stage occurs approximately between ages seven and eleven years.  In this stage, children gain a better understanding of mental operations (Wagner, 2005).  Intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).  That is, children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have a difficult time understanding concepts that are abstract and hypothetical (Wagner, 2005).  Therefore, operational thinking develops or children learn mental actions are reversible, and egocentric thought diminishes (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 

4.            Formal operational stage.  This stage occurs from approximately twelve years to adulthood.  In this stage, individuals develop the ability to think about abstract concepts, and skills such as logical thought, deductive reasoning, and systematic planning begin to emerge (Wagner, 2005).  In addition, egocentric thought briefly returns at the beginning of this stage (Huitt & Hummel, 2003). 

Educational ImplicationsPiaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development has been influential in education, especially for pre-school and primary grades.  As aforementioned, his theory was a major contributor to the foundation of constructivist learning.  Two primary instructional techniques that have shown to be effective are discovery learning and supporting the developing interests of the child.  Based upon this theory, it is recommended that teachers challenge student’s abilities instead of presenting material or information that it too far ahead of the child’s level.  In addition, it is recommended that teachers use a wide range of concrete experiences to help the child learn (Huitt & Hummel, 2003), which was what Mayer, Sims, and Tajika (1995) found when they examined the differences between mathematical textbooks between Japan and the United States.  Japanese textbooks were more successful with regard to student learning in part, because they included many concrete analogies that allowed students to apply what they were learning to real-world situations.        
Therefore, Dewey contributed the “hands-on” experience and Piaget contributed the “minds-on” experience to service-learning (Billig, 2004, p.1), which are the foundations of this teaching strategy.
Service-Learning Efficacy
Service-learning as a teaching strategy has the significant potential to increase learning for a variety of student populations, and in turn, also contributes to enhancing community life (Kielsmeier, Scales, Roehlkepartain, & Neal, 2004).  However, the focus, as aforementioned, is on student learning not civic engagement. 
When service-learning is designed and implemented appropriately, it has the capability to lead students to make connections between the content they are learning in the classroom to real-world life experiences (Soslau & Yost, 2007), especially for younger students (Johnson, 2002; Marzano, 2003; and Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).  Research suggests its effectiveness, because it involves problem-based learning and it connects students to real-world social dilemmas.  It provides students the opportunity for effective, meaningful learning and problem-solving (Soslau & Yost, 2007).  
Service-learning has been linked to increasing student academic performances.  For example, Soslau and Yost (2007) examined three factors of service-learning in two urban fifth grade classes.  These three factors are as follows: (1) gains in student’s ability to link curriculum to real-world connections, (2) increases of student’s benchmark performances, and (3) increases of student’s attendance and decreases in suspension occurrences that indicates enhanced motivation.  Their findings suggest that for all three factors, the experimental group improved significantly as compared to the control group.  With regard to the first factor, students in the experimental group did make more real-world connections to their class learning.  In addition, they were able to retain their ability to make real-world connections in the academic year that followed.  Second, with regard to the second factor, students in the experimental group showed that service-learning had more of a positive impact on their academic achievement.  Third, with regard to the last factor, students in the experimental group had increased attendance, 1.79 percent higher, and it was demonstrated that students in this group were less likely to be suspended.  It should be noted that for the last factor, Soslau and Yost (2007) assumed that showing up to class and lack of suspension occurrences implied increased motivation or a desire to learn.
Wyatt and Peterson (2008) demonstrated similar findings with regard to academic achievement as Soslau and Yost (2007) with some differences.  Wyatt and Peterson (2008) examined students of all levels, kindergarten to college.  Their focus was related to health education and promoting its importance.  They found that implementation of service-learning in a health education classroom was effective.  It enhanced students’ knowledge and advocacy of health literacy standards by linking classroom content to experiential experience.
Another example of service-learning efficacy is a study conducted by Muscott (2000).  Muscott (2000) examined the efficacy of service-learning for students with emotional or behavioral disorders across eleven K-12 programs.  The findings were consistent with previous research on the effects of service-learning for K-12 youth without disabilities.  The author suggests that there is further research needed on service-learning that focuses on assessment of student learning outcomes, however, despite the lack of quantitative data, there was one prominent finding for almost every service-learning program examined: “Participants, their teachers, their parents, and their community supervisors overwhelmingly agree that their [service-learning] programs are worthwhile, useful, enjoyable, and powerful learning experiences” (Conrad & Hedin, 1991, p. 545).     
Furthermore, The National Service-Learning Cooperative (1998) states that there are eleven essential elements that occur when service-learning is implemented effectively.  These elements are summarized as follows:
1.            Clear educational goals are set and require the application of concepts, content, and skills from academic disciplines, and involve students in the construction of their own knowledge.
2.            Students are engaged in tasks that widen and challenge them cognitively and developmentally.
3.            Assessment is used to enhance student learning as well as to record and evaluate how successful students have met content and skill standards.
4.            Students are engaged in service tasks that have clear goals, meet genuine needs in the school or community, and have significant consequences for themselves and others.
5.            Formative and summative evaluation is employed in a systematic evaluation of the service effort and its outcome.
6.            Student voices is maximized in selecting, designing, implementing, and evaluating the service project.
7.            Diversity is valued as demonstrated by its participants, its practice, and its outcomes.
8.            Communication and interaction with the community is promoted, and partnerships and collaboration are encouraged.
9.            Students are prepared in all aspects of their service work.  Students possess a clear understanding of tasks and roles as well as skills and information required by the tasks; awareness of safety precautions; and knowledge about and sensitivity to the people with whom they will be working.
10.            Student reflection takes place before, during, and after service; uses multiple methods that encourage critical thinking; and is a central force in the design and fulfillment of curricular objectives.
11.            Multiple methods are designed to acknowledge, celebrate, and further validate students’ service work.

In conclusion, service-learning has shown to be effective for diverse student populations.  However, future research is needed.
Teachers as K-12 Leaders (Case Study)
There has been much research conducted on the motivations and experiences of faculty who implement service-learning at higher education institutions, however, limited research has been conducted on the motivations of K-12 teachers (Krebs, 2008).  Therefore, in this section, we present the characteristics needed for K-12 teachers to be effective catalysis’s in implementing this strategy.  We label these teachers as teacher leaders, because of the effort, rapport, support, and initiative they took in undertaking a service-learning program at their school.  Furthermore, it should be noted that only one case study example was included simply due to the lack of research on this topic.
Krebs (2008) conducted a study that focused on motivation of K-12 teachers to initiate a service-learning program.  Participants included six teachers in K-12 public schools in Ohio and the author whom is a former high school teacher.  Participants had varying years of teaching experience and varying degrees of experience implementing this strategy.  There were four phases.  During the first three phases, participants went through a series of interviews.  In the last phase, the interviewer transcribed all interviews and coded the transcriptions.
Three major themes emerged from the interviews that describe the experience of these teacher leaders with regard to the implementation of service-learning.  The first theme was connections.  Teachers repeatedly mentioned the importance of the connections they made when planning and implementing service-learning projects.  Connections with other teachers, administrators, students, and parents, connections made with the curriculum (i.e., links between service and academic learning), and connections made with members of the community (Krebs, 2008).
The second theme was resonance in the heart of the teacher.  Teachers claimed that this resonance comes from a deep, personal belief about the importance of making a positive difference in the world and teaching this belief to students.  As one teacher stated, “You have got to do things for the goodness of mankind” (Krebs, 2008, p. 144).  In addition, teachers claimed that resonance comes from three other places.  First, from their personal experiences with role models (e.g. their mother, father, teacher, etc.).  Second, from their professional development experiences.  Third, from mentoring and motivating other teachers (Krebs, 2008). 
The third and final theme was the right fit with teaching philosophy and style.  Krebs (2008) found in this theme the importance of creating a well-balanced, harmonious relationship between service-learning and a teacher’s student-centered philosophy and experiential teaching style.  Teachers valued the importance of educating children to be functioning members of society, connecting students to their surrounding community, and helping students find meaning and purpose in their lives.  They viewed this as their responsibility to teach students the importance of the link between learning and purpose, between students and society (Krebs, 2008).
In sum, the teachers in this study were motivated to initiate service-learning for both personal and professional reasons.  By implementing this method, they found unique connections with their students, with other teachers, with parents, administrators, the curriculum, and with the community.  They found this method particularly useful for their at-risk students’ desire to value learning (Krebs, 2008).  Therefore, teachers that exemplify these characteristics are leaders in that they are leading our children in the direction to be future leaders themselves.
Limitations of Service-Learning
There are several limitations of service-learning other than those previously mentioned.  First, there is not much research base to support the effectiveness of programming (Terry, 2006).  Bradley (2003) believed this to be attributed to practitioners not always linking program design and assessment to existing developmental and learning theories.  Second, it is often difficult to attain accurate information about a service-learning program.  Student learning outcomes are not pinpointed or as accurate as needed, which does not satisfy current accountability issues (Terry, 2006).  Third, even though this strategy has taken a developmental approach, there needs to be more research examining the social, emotional, and moral development of students at different levels of service-learning (Terry , 2006).  Lastly, service-learning programs are in need of becoming fads if efforts towards sustainability are not met (Terry, 2006), especially in our present day budget climate.  These limitations seem to be consistent across the literature, but do not encompass all limitations of using this strategy.          
As posed at the beginning of this paper, we addressed the question: as teachers and current educational leaders, how do we change our teaching methodologies to adapt to the needs of an increasing diverse student population entering the K-12 public school system so that all students learn effectively?  An attempt to answer this question was made by discussing the efficacy of service-learning as a teaching strategy.  The goal was to show that service-learning is in part effective because it builds students’ connections with material taught in the classroom to real-world situations.  However, this paper did not infer that this method is the sole intervention needed to solve this public school system issue; rather it suggests a method for small but significant educational reform.
We defined service-learning as a teaching strategy that clearly ties community-service experiences to classroom instruction.  Primarily, our focus was on the importance of this strategy with regard to student learning, personally, socially, cognitively and developmentally, across diverse populations, rather than the focus being on civic engagement like many other studies.  John Dewey and Jean Piaget were highlighted because of their significant contributions to this teaching strategy. 
From the empirical support provided, we conclude that service-learning is an effective teaching strategy, when used appropriately, for students of all ages and diversity.  In addition, we introduced a case study example of the characteristics teachers need in order to implement this strategy successfully.  We termed these teachers teacher leaders, because of the effort, rapport, support, and initiative they took to undertake a service-learning program at their school.
Despite the limitations of service-learning, research has shown its effectiveness.  However, further research is needed to support its implementation with regard to learning for diverse student populations.  We conclude this paper with a statement from Soslau and Yost (2007), “Students who are actively engaged in their own learning take ownership of it and thus are more motivated to learn.  The personal investment students make as a result of their service-learning project provides for a more powerful learning opportunity” (p. 52).
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