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Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Service Learning > Examples of Service-Learning > Learning by Teaching
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Learning by Teaching

Mary J. Lopez
Occidental College
Author Profile
This material was originally created for Starting Point: Teaching Economics
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

In this service learning project, college students worked in groups of three to prepare a 55-minute interactive lesson on one of the topics covered in an Economics of Race and Gender course and team taught the lesson to students at a local high school. Before presenting the lesson at the high school, college students were instructed to choose one or two newspaper or magazine articles that addressed the topic of their presentation. In addition, college students were asked to write up a set of discussion questions to accompany the newspaper articles. The selected articles and discussion questions were delivered to the high school students 1-2 days prior to the presentation. The high school students were instructed to read and answer the discussion questions as preparation for the student-led instruction. The college students wrote a series of short reflection essays and the high school students are tested on what they learned from the college students.

Learning Goals

The primary goals of the service project were the following: 1) to strengthen the college students' understanding of the course material; 2) to increase economic literacy among high school students; 3) to have students think about human capital accumulation in a deeper way; and 4) to engage students of diverse backgrounds through an alternative active-learning pedagogy.

Context for Use

This project is ideal for a class size of approximately 15-30 students. This project also requires that the instructor partner with a local high school. For this particular project, the partnership with the local high school was established during the semester prior to the semester in which the service learning project took place. Students spent approximately 15 out of class hours preparing the lesson and 1 hour teaching the lesson at the local high school. The instructor was present at the high school on the day of the student teaching. The project began several weeks after the college students had been exposed to several topics on the syllabus. Students needed an opportunity to master the material before they actually taught it. This project could be adapted to any discipline.

Teaching Materials

The service-learning project follows a student-based instruction model in which students have the opportunity to teach economics (McGoldrick 2002) . The Economics of Race and Gender is an upper-division elective course with a prerequisite of principles of macro- and microeconomics. The service-learning project consists of preparing a 55-minute interactive lesson on one of the topics listed on the syllabus and then teaching the lesson to students at a local high school. The college students work together in groups of three. Students are instructed to avoid the "talk and chalk" approach and prepare lessons that are interactive. The presentations should delivered at the high school at the end of the college semester. The course instructor should observe and evaluate all group presentations. The project should be mandatory for the students enrolled in the course.

In order to begin preparing students for the project, a service-learning workshop should be held in class during the third week of the semester. The workshop should provide students with the details of the project; provide students with a demographic and socioeconomic profile of the participating high school and the surrounding community; provide information on the various service-learning models, in particular, the student-based instruction model; and provide students an opportunity to reflect on and share their thoughts about service-learning as part of the curriculum. The following are examples of good reflection questions. Based on your understanding of this community-based learning project, is this a project that you are interested in participating in? Do you think that the high school participants will benefit from this project? If so, how? Each student should then be asked to share his/her response with the entire class.

The groups spend approximately 12-15 hours preparing for the presentation. In addition, each group should meet with the instructor on several occasions to discuss lesson plans or group conflicts. In order to help the students prepare for their first group meeting, they should be given a handout with a series of questions and instructions (See reference under "Resources" below).

Students are also instructed to choose one or two newspaper or magazine articles that addresses the topic of their presentation. In addition, students are asked to write up a set of discussion questions to accompany the newspaper articles. The selected articles and discussion questions should be delivered to the high school students 1-2 days prior to the presentation. The high school students are instructed to read and answer the discussion questions as preparation for the student-led instruction. The responses to the discussion questions are collected by the high school instructor and counted toward their participation grade.

Each student-led presentation should begin with a brief set of introductions by both college and high school students and end with 2-3 minutes of informal discussion between the high school and college students. A wide variety of interactive learning techniques can be incorporated into the lessons. For example, the use of in-class debates or skits as methods for presenting and discussing the material. Small group discussion followed by a large class discussion to organize the presentation can also be used. It is important that the presentations make reference to the assigned newspaper/magazine articles and academic readings from the course. College students can also prepare handouts that are distributed on the day of the presentation. Cartoons or comic strips can also be used in handouts to illustrate the topics. High school students should be told that they will be tested on the information presented in class. For a detailed description of each of the presentations please see the reference under "Resources" below.

College students should submit a short reflection essay and answer a short survey at the end of the semester on whether they believed that the goals previously mentioned have been met. High schools students can also be tested on the material they learned from the presentations.




Teaching Notes and Tips

The instructor should work closely with the student on developing interactive techniques that could be used in the classroom. Regular meetings with students will also ensure that students stay on track with presentations and that the workload is distributed equally across group members. The instructor may also consider having the college students and high school meet before the presentations. The interaction before the presentation may result in both groups taking the assignment more seriously.

Assessment

Outcomes can be measured with a survey and reflection essays written by the college students. Outcomes can also be measured with the test scores of the high school students. While survey questions were used to assess project goals, answers to the survey questions were not used for grading purposes. Students were graded as a group on the presentation at the local high school.

References and Resources

For a copy of the preparation handout, a detailed description of student presentations, and survey questions which can be used for assessment purposes please see Lopez, Mary. 2009. "Incorporating Service Learning Into the Economics Curriculum," Review of Black Political Economy, 36 (2): pp. 137-149.

Subject

Economics

Resource Type

Activities:Project:Service Learning, Activities

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14), College Upper (15-16)

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