Community service learning, when integrated into the modules of academic learning programmes, has the potential to contribute to the value and effectiveness of learning by offering hands-on experience and placing the learners in real-life situations as part of their learning phase. Most of the research done on community service learning has investigated the benefits, outcomes and learning experiences of students engaged in service-learning programmes. As there is little or no research on students' attitudes to and perceptions of service learning before it is integrated into an academic programme, the purpose of this study was to determine teacher training students' attitudes to and perceptions of community service learning before it became integrated into their academic programmes. The research was quantitative in nature and followed a descriptive design, in which a survey employing a questionnaire as instrument was used for measuring the attitudes and perceptions of third-year teacher training students at the Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria. A purposeful or non-probability sampling strategy was used, yielding a sample size of 168 students (n=±168). The results of the study indicate that students with prior knowledge of and/or participation in a community service programme showed greater willingness to enrol for such a programme, especially if it would add value to their career development and bear credits. The conclusion is that teacher training students are career focused and need to know more about community service learning before such courses/modules are integrated into their curriculum, to ensure their positive participation and enhanced learning. Recommendations are made with the intention of providing information to academic staff, to assist them with the successful design and implementation of courses/modules which include community service learning and would be meaningful to the community and of value to the student. The recommendations are also intended to encourage students to participate more willingly in community service learning courses/modules. These recommendations include a discussion on a thorough introduction to the pedagogy before integrating it into their curriculum.
Dissertation (MEd (Education for Community Building))--University of Pretoria, 2007.