Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Korach, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Virginia Maloney, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kent Seidel

Fourth Advisor

Ronald DeLyser


Mathematics, Middle school, Service learning, Social studies


Service learning, a natural link between community service and standards-based education, encourages students to learn about themselves in the context of the world in which they live. In other words, service learning is a method of teaching that enriches learning by engaging students in meaningful service to their schools and communities, and integrating that service with established curricula or learning objectives (NYLC Service-Learning Glossary, 2005). Educational service activities can be done directly or indirectly and they can have a varying degree of “involvement” ranging from community service, community exploration, community action or advocacy and research. In this study, a service learning project at a rural middle school was evaluated. The project was a result of a response to a community need and was seen as a way to reinforce academic skills for an entire 5th grade class.

The purpose of this study was to describe a middle school service learning project and its influence on student learning and empowerment. Gender differences for both of these areas were also considered. Specifically, the study looked at three areas: academic gains, overall perceptions about the project and students’ perceptions about making a difference in their communities. In order to do this effectively, middle level learning, motivation, engagement and student voice, as they pertain to the students’ sense of empowerment in helping a community, were taken into account.

This was a mixed methodology case study and a pragmatic approach to this analysis was used, where the quantitative data (from surveys) revealed some of the initial information and then qualitative elements from the surveys, journals and observations were added to offer support for the statistical findings.

Almost all groups made gains between the pre-survey and post survey on hunger awareness and fraction concepts, but it is impossible to know if those gains were due to the service learning project or other factors. On-task behaviors, as a measurement of project engagement, were examined and were high for most parts of the project as well.

Most students stated that they had a positive service learning experience (91%) and that they felt they could make a difference in their community (91%). To evaluate these findings further, analyses were performed that looked at responses to journal prompts and other open-ended questions.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Georgina Levey


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

196 p.


Education, Curriculum development