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Release: Immediate

UI education professor receives nearly $300,000 for 'service-learning'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Future teachers of K-12 students around the country will get better training in how to combine academics with community service in their classrooms, thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant awarded to a partnership headed by a University of Iowa College of Education professor.

Rahima Wade, associate professor in the UI's Division of Curriculum and Instruction, is leading a new initiative to improve the training of future teachers to use "service-learning" as a way to help elementary, middle and high school students learn academic skills while getting involved in their communities.

The year-long project, "National Service-Learning in Teacher Education Partnership," is funded with a $298,000 grant from the Corporation for National Service.

"Service-learning is really mushrooming around the country as more teachers, administrators and school districts come to see it as a way to get students excited about school and learning," says Wade. "With this project, we hope to broaden the interest in service-learning and deepen the understanding of it in teacher education programs around the country."

Service-learning is a teaching technique that uses community service initiatives as part of the curriculum. Students use academic skills -- critical thinking, reasoning, communicating, problem-solving and decision-making -- to design community service projects and reflect on the work they have done.

Under the new partnership, Wade and six other teacher educators around the United States will coordinate regional efforts to provide training, technical assistance, curriculum materials, and strategies to teacher education programs.

The initiative's first-year goals include:

-- Providing training and technical assistance to 63 teacher educators at 21 colleges and universities, resulting in at least 1,100 future teachers' involvement in service-learning;

-- Convening six regional meetings for 180 teacher educators, resulting in at least 20 new or improved service-learning courses or practicums.

The new grant is the latest in a series Wade has received since 1994 to improve service-learning training and education. She formerly directed a statewide effort to incorporate community service projects in teacher training that involves students from the UI, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

She says service-learning is appealing to students in teacher education programs. About 180 students in the UI College of Education annually study service-learning through courses and through in-school practicums.

"As I work with teacher education students, I see a lot of empowerment for them as they become involved in their communities," Wade says. "Service-learning is an authentic way for students to learn academic skills, to build self-esteem, and to develop a sense of self-efficacy, the sense that 'I can make a difference in the world.'"

If the first year of the partnership is successful, Wade hopes to expand the project for two more years.

Editors note: Other partners in the project are:

Jeffrey Anderson, Seattle University, Seattle, Wash.

Peni Callahan, Educational Department, Providence College, Providence, R.I.

Marty Druckenfield, National Dropout Prevention Center, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

Don Hill, Service Learning 2000 Center, Palo Alto, Calif.

Terry Pickeral, Cascade Educational Consultants, Bellingham, Wash.

Sue Root, Alma College, Alma, Mich.