Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Nathan Carnes


This interpretive case study focused on elementary teachers who were implementing a service-learning project in their classroom. Research suggests that service-learning is beneficial for students and is becoming more prevalent in high schools and universities. Current literature, however, provides little evidence for the use of service-learning at the elementary level. The purpose of this study was to explore and gain insight in to how elementary school teachers use service learning and to examine underlying factors that shape and influence how teachers plan for and implement service learning projects. This study aims to provide a planning model to support elementary teachers implementing future service-learning projects. Four third grade teachers at a southeastern suburban elementary school participated in the study. Data were generated through interviews, focus groups, and observations. Data showed that these teachers did not use the same planning strategies for service-learning that they used in planning for academic standards. Teachers had negative perceptions of SL as a strategy because they did not have time to plan, felt too much pressure to accomplish other obligations such as standardized instruction, or they did not have the pedagogical or content knowledge necessary to be successful. This study suggests that teachers need to plan for an emergent curriculum when implementing a SL project, but further research and professional development are necessary to develop a planning model.