Understanding preservice teachers’ perceptions of service-learning when teaching educational technology to students with exceptionalities



Service-learning can be an important component in a students’ overall learning while going through a program of study at a college or university. Particularly, preservice teachers may be able to take a service-learning experience and re-create a similar experience in K-12 classrooms, further extending the ideals of civic engagement for their students. During an educational technology class in the spring of 2021, preservice teachers worked at an inclusive, state accredited private school as part of a required service-learning component. Preservice teacher candidates worked with middle and high school students, many of whom were identified with a disability, preferably referred to as an exceptionality. Prior to engaging in activities with K-12 students, preservice teachers were introduced to floor-robots and virtual reality environments during class. After gaining necessary skills and a greater awareness of how to incorporate educational technology into a learning environment, they were then required to teach high school students how to use the education technology devices. Over the course of the semester, preservice teachers wrote three reflections centered on service-learning and educational technology, including a pre-reflection, a midway reflection, and a post-reflection. Three independent researchers, using a thematic analysis approach, analyzed the data prior to meeting as a group to identify overarching themes and sub-themes. Some of the overall themes included: positive growth, beneficial, and increased pedagogical application. Results were surprising and promising, both for service-learning as an engaging pedagogical tool, and for the future of educational technology in learning environments.

Author Biographies

Jane Elizabeth Casey, Texas A&M University Central Texas

Dr. J. Elizabeth Casey earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. She is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Her areas of scholarship include innovative educational technology to enhance elementary students’ knowledge of programming, social studies literacy, and metacognitive strategy instruction with English learners. She was recently awarded a federal grant from the USDA in the amount of $150,000.00 that will provide professional development to in-service teachers to enhance 4-9 grade students' awareness of agricultural literacy.

Levi McClendon, Texas A&M University Central Texas

Dr. McClendon is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor, National Certified School Counselor, and a certified school counselor and teacher through the Texas State Board of Educator Certification. Dr. McClendon has 10 years of counseling experience in various settings: elementary, middle, high schools, non-profit counseling centers, and group private practice. Dr. McClendon is a full time tenure-track assistant professor teaching counseling, school counseling, and play therapy graduate classes. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts with a Double Major in Psychology and Health & Kinesiology, a Master of Arts in Professional School Counseling, both from The University of Texas at Tyler, and a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Texas San Antonio.