Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education

Document Type



As teacher educators strive to prepare preservice teachers for careers as literacy instructors and advocates of social justice in education, critical service-learning pedagogy has been considered as an approach for teacher education programs. Tenets of academic study, reflective practice, social change, and the development of authentic relationships between universities and communities outline the structure for critical-based field experiences. What are preservice teachers learning in these spaces? How do they grow as part of critical service- learning courses? How do community organizations and members interpret experiences in the partnership, and how do they describe their roles?

This study highlights the voices of the preservice teachers, children, parents and guardians, and library staff members who played equally important roles in a critical service- learning partnership. For this qualitative case study, descriptions of lived experiences in the partnership were collected in interviews from 12 preservice teachers, 12 children, nine parents/guardians, and four library staff members. Written reflections and transcriptions of peer discussions and interviews were collected from preservice teachers to provide insight into their development as they transition from students to teachers. Each group’s texts were examined using discourse analysis to explore interpretations of their experiences, development of their identities within the context of a library-university partnership, and constructions of meaning and significance around activities, relationships, connections, politics, and ways of knowing.

The findings in this study revealed that (1) the inclusion of all participants’ voices provided a more holistic understanding of the nuanced reciprocal relationships in the library- university partnership; (2) immersive, authentic experiences in the community cultivated growth and transformation in preservice teachers’ abilities to draw upon content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, community/cultural knowledge, and critical self-knowledge; and (3) preservice teachers used different discursive spaces and interactions for varying purposes when interpreting experiences, making sense of their roles and responsibilities, and applying a social justice lens. By including the voices of all those involved in critical service-learning partnerships in the research, teacher educators can model the application of socially just practices, gain a more holistic picture of the critical service-learning partnership, and use balanced input from all participants to evaluate and strengthen service and learning opportunities.



Committee Chair

Skinner, Kim