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Practice Stories from the Field

Vol. 18 No. 2

The Promise of a Community-Based, Participatory Approach to Service-Learning in Education

  • Alan Tinkler
  • Barri Tinkler
  • Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin
  • Vincent M Mugisha
June 16, 2014


This article reports on how one teacher education program utilized a Learn and Serve America grant to embed service-learning experiences into its practices. Included are narrative reflections on how the program faculty developed a community-based, participatory approach to service-learning in order to act as a responsive partner to the needs of the local community. The experience of the team illuminates opportunities and challenges in how a community-based, participatory service-learning approach—which attends to the needs of community partners—can strengthen relationships between teacher education programs and the communities in which these programs are situated. The findings suggest that this type of approach can be a useful way to develop transformational service-learning relationships that support teacher education students in developing cultural competence related to inequities associated with poverty, race, and English language acquisition.