Statement signed by 53 people urging Mn to require prospective teachers to learn about service-learning

September 8, 2020


Dear Judge Eric Lipman and Members of the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards (PELSB) Board:

The undersigned diverse group of 53 researchers, educators, and community leaders (including  adults and high school/college students) urge that service-learning be included in the preparation of all Minnesota K-12 teachers.  This is in response to “Proposed Changes to the Rules Governing Teacher Preparation (R-4576).” We are proposing an addition to Minnesota Rules, Chapter 8705, Unit Standards, Subpart 1.

Our recommendations are based on extensive research, summarized below.

In this brief note, we provide specific recommendations, summarize supporting research, explain how service-learning has value beyond project and inquiry-based learning and cite relationships between service-learning and INTASC standards.

We believe that PELSB does have the statutory authority to adopt rules and it is meeting the legal and procedural requirements to adopt rules.

We strongly suggest an addition to 8705 Unit Standards, Subpart 1   Our specific recommendations are that Minnesota teacher preparation institutions be required to insure that each K-12 teaching candidate:

  • Understands the rationale for service-learning;
  • Engages in at least one service-learning project as part of their preparation; and
  • Learns how service-learning can be applied to the age of students and curricula area(s) they are preparing to teach.

Service-learning can be used to help prospective teachers achieve at least four of the INTASC Standards:  development of critical thinking;  subject matter knowledge; fostering relationships with the larger community to help students learn; and creating instructional opportunities adapted to diverse learners. (Anderson)

As an active learning pedagogy, service-learning goes beyond project-based and inquiry-based learning in important ways.

  1. Service-learning engages young people as persons with knowledge, creativity, and assets who can, even at age 5, help improve their communities. Students take an issue that matters to them and their community and explore solutions to addressing that issue through the application of their academic curricula.  Through service-learning, students create and implement solutions to address societal issues that matter.  There are numerous examples of service-learning involving youngsters, even at the kindergarten level, such as students who studied area and perimeter in mathematics, and designed, gathered materials for and helped built a playground for their school.  The day when six donated truckloads of sand arrived, which five to seven students had obtained, was an unforgettable day for these youngsters.


  1. Service-learning helps young people see connections between what they are studying in the classroom and efforts to improve their community, state, nation and in some cases world.
  2. Service-learning requires an explicit component of reflection through which students analyze the nature of societal issues, the ways in which their academic subject(s) informed their understanding of the issue, what worked well and what did not, and what actions they might take in the future as active contributors to society.
  3. When done well, service-learning produces a powerful, positive and productive conclusion among participating students that they have tried, and in many cases succeeded, in making the world better.

Research published as recently as March, 2020, and going back twenty years, documents the deep value of service-learning.  A national report released in March, 2020 concluded that “students who participate in service-learning opportunities demonstrate better academic performance, a deeper understanding of civic responsibility, and a stronger ethic of service.” (National Commission).  Based on this research, the Commission recommended that “IHEs (Institutes of Higher Education) and nonprofit organizations explore ways to integrate quality, research-based civic education, and service-learning methodologies into curricula, consider best practices, and prepare teachers to use service-learning methodologies.(National Commission, 2020, p. 20)

In 2010, the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a comprehensive research study of the teaching practices that are most effective for enhancing student learning. Their research found that student learning is highest when students (at all levels) engage in educational experiences that are:

  1. authentic (students learn about real issues that matter to them and the work/projects they produce make a difference to the real world, as opposed to producing work only for the teacher’s eyes).

active (students are actively rather than passively engaged in the learning process; teaching is student-centered)

  1. constructivist (students construct their understanding through higher order thinking by being provided scaffolds on which to build their understanding, rather than being fed bit and pieces of information to memorize)
  2. cooperative (students learn through teamwork and collaboration and exchange of ideas, knowledge, and perspectives)
  3. empowering (students have opportunities to apply their assets that helps build their self-efficacy and empowers them to want to learn more)
  4. expands boundaries (students have opportunities to venture outside their comfort zones to explore new vistas that open up their world view and understanding)
  5. personalized (students connect learning activities to issues that matter to them and have personal meaning; the more students are personally interested in something, the more they invest themselves in understanding it). (OECD 2010)

Of all of the pedagogies that OECD reviewed, service-learning was found to be the only pedagogy that met all of the aforementioned criteria.  (Furco, 2010).

A report based on recommendations from community leaders and higher education faculty urged that prospective educators are more likely to learn how and why to include service-learning in their work if they experience service-learning in their preparation. (Shumer) Thus, we urge that pre-service include, not only learning about, but having at least one service learning experience.

Training prospective teachers can have important positive results for faculty, as well as students.  Preservice teachers trained in service-learning have showed gains in trust of students, in how well-prepared they are to use effective teaching skills, and a significant gain in a sense of teaching efficacy and commitment to teaching. (Sikes and Root)

We believe that service-learning can enhance and strengthen preparation in each of the following proposed Standards of Effective Practice:

  • develop learning experiences that engage students in collaborative and self-directed learning and that extend students’ interactions with ideas and people locally and globally (Standard 18)
  • collaborate with colleagues to integrate cross-disciplinary skills and content throughout instruction (Standard 22)
  • collaborate with students to design and implement relevant learning experiences, identify their strengths, and access family and community resources to develop their areas of interest (Standard 33)
  • effectively establish and manage small-group work that fosters collaboration, semi-independent work, and accountability for learning (Standard 38)
  • be able to actively seek professional, community, and technological resources, within and outside the school, as supports for analysis, reflection, and problem solving (Standard 64)
  • The array of research led the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to conclude that “meaningful service to the community, combined with curriculum-based learning, builds stronger academic skills, encourages lifelong civic commitment, and improves workplace and personal development skills among youth.” (Anderson)
  • Findings from other research reveal that “Participation in high quality service-learning can increase students’ knowledge about government, commitment to communities and service, sense of civic responsibility, increased civic leadership, and acceptance of diversity and cultural differences.” (Furco)
  • The longitudinal study of service experiences by four professors at Stanford found that sustained service-learning and related experiences are a crucial factor in young people’s development of a sense of “civic purpose,” or lifelong commitment to the common good beyond their particular self- interests. (Malin)
  • A meta-analysis of 62 studies involving 11,837 students indicated that, compared to controls, students participating in SL programs demonstrated significant gains in five outcome areas: attitudes toward self, attitudes toward school and learning, civic engagement, social skills, and academic performance. Mean effects ranged from 0.27 to 0.43. (Celio et al.)

For these reasons, we strongly urge that all prospective Minnesota K-12 educators, as they prepare to teach, build an understanding of the rationale, pedagogy and philosophy of service-learning, build personal experience with the practice, and learn how to apply the pedagogy and principles of service-learning  in their classrooms to enhance the educational experiences of students.

Immediately below are names and references to the research cited in the statement above.

Following the “references cited”  is a brief research summary prepared by Dr. Andrew Furco, Professor of Education, and Associate Vice President for Public Engagement, University of Minnesota.  We welcome any questions that this document raises. Thank you for considering these recommendations.


Sue Aberholden, MPH, Executive Director NAMI Minnesota

Candice M. Ames, PhD, Pine City, Mn, 50 year Mn public school educator

Terri Anderson, former Waubun-Ogema-White Earth school board member

school board member, now Executive Director, Naytawaush Community Charter School

Katie Avina, Executive Director, El Colegio High School

Lincoln Bacal, Founder, Twin Cities Changemakers, High School senior

Laura Bloomberg, PhD, Professor and Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar, Augsburg College,  Founder of Public Achievement

Mary K Boyd, Retired Area Superintendent, St. Paul Public Schools

Julie Bascom, Director, Training & Leadership Development, National Youth Leadership Council

Rosita Balch, Family Engagement Specialist

Charlie Castro, Communication Faculty Member, Century College and North Hennepin Community College.

Rose W. Chu, PhD, Senior Policy Fellow, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, Professor Emerita, Metro State University

Walter Cortina, founder, Bridgemakers, student, High School for Recording Arts

Joshua Crosson, Executive Director, EdAllies

Walter Enloe, Professor of Education, Emeritus, Hamline University

Andrew Furco, Professor of Education, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement, University of Minnesota

Jennifer Godinez, Associate Director, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP)

Patti Haasch, Cass Lake Public Schools retired principal, MAAP STARS Chair

Donna Harris, Ed.D., President, Minnehaha Academy

Greg Herder, Board Chair, National Youth Leadership Council

Wayne Jennings, PhD, retired suburban school board member, retired St Paul Public School principal

Jim Kielsmeier, decorated US Army Infantry Officer/ Ranger deployed in 1960;s on DMZ in Korea, National Youth Leadership Council Founder

Jane Leonard, President, Growth & Justice

Dan Loritz

Richard Mammen, former Mpls School Board member, Co-Founder & Past President, Change Inc.

Carlos Mariani-Rosa, Executive Director, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP)

Senator John Marty, Minnesota Senate

Amy Meuers, Executive Director, National Youth Leadership Council

Alberto Monserrate, Co-Founder and CEO, New Publica: New Audiences, New Communications

Joe Nathan, PhD, Director, Center for School Change

Vicki Nelson retired public school educator and consultant with several northeast Minnesota schools.

Julene Oxton, School Transformation and Development Director – EdVisions, and Minnesota Learner Centered Network Coordinator

John Poupart, Founder and President, American Indian Policy Center

Jane Prince, St Paul City Councilmember, Ward 7

Khalique Rogers, consultant to Youthprise and University of Minnesota student

Susan Root, Ph.D. former Research Director, National Youth Leadership Council

Bryan Rossi, Ph.D. Experiential Youth Empowerment Strategies

Dr. B. Charvez Russell, Executive Director, Friendship Academy of the Arts

Sondra Samuels, President & CEO, Northside Achievement Zone

Rep. Steve Sandell, MN House of Representatives

Jim Scheibel, Professor of Practice, Hamline University, former mayor, St Paul

Karen Seashore (Louis), PhD Regents Professor of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, University of Minnesota

Robert Shumer, Ph.D. Community Faculty Metropolitan State University and U of Minnesota, Founding Director of the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (U of Minnesota)

Lee-Ann Stephens, Ed.D, Mn Teacher of the Year 2006, Equity Coach, St Louis Park Public Schools.

Nathan Strenge, Senior Learning Designer, Fielding International

Rashad Turner, Founder and Executive Director, Minnesota Parents Union

Mike Van Keulen, Executive Director of Open Path Resources

Brandon Wait, Executive Director, Paladin Career & Technical High School

Wokie Weah, President, Youthprise

Maddy Wegner, Director of Engagement, National Youth Leadership Council

Louise Wilson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Graduate School Adjunct Faculty

Bethel University

Scott Wurdinger, PhD Professor Emeritus, Experiential Learning, MSU, Mankato

Samuel Yigsaw, PhD and Executive Director, Higher Ground Academy


Anderson, Jeffrey B., “Learning In Deed: Service-Learning and Preservice Teacher Education” (2000). Service Learning, General. Paper 16.

Celio, Christine I., Durlak, Joseph, and Dymnicki, Allison, “A Meta-analysis of the Impact of Service-Learning on Students,” Journal of Experiential Education,  (2011, Volume 34, No. 2 ) pp. 164-181.

Furco, Andrew, “Service Learning Research Summary”, 2019, (please see below)

Malin, H., et al, “Civic Purpose: An Integrated Construct for Understanding Civic Development in Adolescence,” Human Development , (2015;58:103-130)

National Commission of Military, National and Public Service, “Inspired to Serve,” March 2020, accessible at

OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, “Nature of Learning, The: Using Research to Inspire Practice, 2010, Accessible at


Shumer, Robert D. , “Teacher Education and Service Learning,”  (June 1992) Accessible at


Sikes, Kathy, and Root, Susan, “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers with Transformative Practice: Engaging All Learners through Service Learning, St Paul, October 2011

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Research summary by University of Minnesota Professor and Associate Vice President  for Public Engagement Andrew Furco, PhD Feb, 2019

Academic Achievement and Cognitive Learning

Participation in high quality service-learning experiences is associated with improved subject matter learning and academic performance, greater academic engagement, increased motivation for learning, improved school attendance and grades, and engagement in higher order thinking.

Improved Subject Matter Learning and Performance:

K-12 students who engage in service-learning have outperformed non service-learning students on standardized state examinations (reading and language arts) and classroom academic content learning assessments (science, mathematics and social studies).(1)

School Success Indicators:

Studies have found positive associations between K-12 students’ service-learning participation and reductions in disciplinary problems, improvements in students’ school attendance, improvements in students’ grades and grade-point averages and increases in student retention in school (2)

Learning Commitment, Engagement, and Motivation:

When done well, service-learning activities can enhance students’ motivation toward school and help students develop more positive attitudes toward learning. Service-learning exposes students to factors and opportunities that are known to mediate academic achievement, including opportunities for students to act autonomously and take on more complex tasks(3)

Civic Development and Commitment to Communities

Participation in high quality service-learning can increase students’ knowledge about government, commitment to communities and service, sense of civic responsibility, increased civic leadership, and acceptance of diversity and cultural differences. (4)

Personal and Social Development

Service-learning participation is consistently found to be an effective instructional strategy for developing students’ self-esteem, self-efficacy, perseverance, resilience, leadership skills, and a positive transition to adulthood. Research studies also suggest that service-learning is an effective practice for enhancing students’ social networks, relationships with peers and adults, and social capital. (5)

Career and Vocational Development: Several studies have found service-learning as a vehicle for students to explore career options and develop career- plans and interview skills. (6)

Character Development: When combined with character development curricula, service-learning participation has been found to enhance character traits such as cooperation, responsibility and integrity, especially among elementary school students. (7)


  • Not all service-learning experiences produce positive outcomes for participants. Positive outcomes manifest when service-learning includes particular practices, such as high integration of academic learning with service activities, meaningful service experiences, intentional reflection, community reciprocity, adequate duration, student-centered approaches, and other components associated with high quality service-learning practice.
  • Within K-12 education, it is estimated that only one in eight students are exposed to this instructional practice.
  • It is worth noting that within higher education, service-learning is widely considered a “high impact instructional practice” (Kuh, 2008), and in turn, more than 80% of all colleges and universities in the United States offer opportunities for students to enhance their academic and civic learning through service-learning.



1)         Klute, M. M., & Billig, S. H. (2002). The impact of service-learning on MEAP: A large-scale study of Michigan Learn and Serve grantees. Denver, CO: RMC Research Corporation.

McBride, A.M., Robertson, A., & Chung, S. (2014). Assessing the impacts of service learning on middle school students: Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program. St. Louis: Center for Social Development.

Meyer, S., Billig, S., & Hofschire, L. (2004). The impact of K-12 school-based service-learning on academic achievement and student engagement in Michigan. In M. Welch & S. Billig (Eds.), New perspectives in service-learning: Research to enhance the field. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Newman, J., Danzler, J. & Coleman, A. (2015). Science in action: How middle school students are changing their world through STEM service-learning projects. Theory into Practice, 54(1), 47-54, doi: 10.1080/00405841.2015.977661.


2)         Bridgeland, J. M., DiIulio, J. J., & Morison, K. B. (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Civic Enterprises & Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

Farber, K. & Bishop, P. (2017). Service learning in the middle grades: Learning by doing and caring. RMLE Online, 42(1), 1-15, doi: 10.1080/199404476.2017.1415600 .

Follman, J., & Muldoon, K. (1997). Florida Learn & Serve 1995-96: What were the outcomes? NASSP Bulletin, 81, 29.

Laird, M. & Black, S. (1999). Service-learning evaluation project: Program effects for at risk students. Oakbrook, IL: Lions Quest.

3)         Brown, S., Kim, W., & Pinhas, S. (2005). Texas Title IV service learning evaluation, 2004-05. Denver, CO: RMC Research Corporation.

Furco, A. (2002). Is service-learning really better than community service? A study of high school service program outcomes. In A. Furco & S. Billig (Eds.), Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Hecht, D. (2002). A study of the effects of participation in the helper model of service-learning in early adolescence. Unpublished report,

Scales, P. C., Blyth, D. A., Berkas, T. H., & Kielsmeier, J. C. (2000). The effects of service-learning on middle school students’ social responsibility and academic success. Journal of Early Adolescence, 20 (3), 332-358.

Scales, P. C., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Neal, M., Kielsmeier, J. C., & Benson, P. L. (2006). Reducing academic achievement gaps: The role of community service and service learning. Journal of Experiential Education, 29, 38-60.

4)         Flanagan, C. A. (2004). Volunteerism, leadership, political socialization, and civic engagement. Handbook of adolescent psychology, 2, 721-745.

Kahne, J. E., & Sporte, S. E. (2008). Developing citizens: The impact of civic learning opportunities on students’ commitment to civic participation. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 738-766.

Melchior, A, & Bailis, L. N. (2002). Impact of service-learning on civic attitudes and behaviors of middle and high school youth: Findings from three national evaluations. In A. Furco & S. H. Billig (Eds.), Advances in service-learning research: Vol.1. Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy (pp. 201–222). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishers. Perry, J. L., & Katula, M. C. (2001). Does service affect citizenship? Administration & Society, 33(3), 330-365.

Richards, M.H., Sanderson, R.C., Celio, C.I., Grant, J.E., Choi, I., George, C., & Deane, K. (2013). Service-learning in early adolescence. Results of a school-based curriculum. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 5-21. doi: 10.1177/1053825913481580.

5)         Farber, K. & Bishop, P. (2017). Service learning in the middle grades: Learning by doing and caring. RMLE Online, 42(1), 1-15, doi: 10.1080/199404476.2017.1415600 .

Furco, A. (2002). Is service-learning really better than community service? A study of high school service program outcomes. In A. Furco & S. Billig (Eds.), Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Martin, S., Neal, M., Kielsmeier, J., & Crossley, A. (2006). The impact of service-learning on transitions to adulthood. In M. Neal & J. Kielsmeier (Eds.). Growing to Greatness: The State of Service-Learning Project (pp. 4-24). St Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.

Richards, M.H., Sanderson, R.C., Celio, C.I., Grant, J.E., Choi, I., George, C., & Deane, K. (2013). Service-learning in early adolescence. Results of a school-based curriculum. Journal of Experiential Education, 36(1), 5-21. doi: 10.1177/1053825913481580.

Shumer, R. (2005). Service-learning research: What have we learned from the past. In M. Neal & J. Kielsmeier (Eds.). Growing to Greatness: The State of Service-Learning Project (pp. 48-53). St Paul, MN: National Youth Leadership Council.

6)         Furco, A. (2002). Is service-learning really better than community service? A study of high school service program outcomes. In A. Furco & S. Billig (Eds.), Service-learning: The essence of the pedagogy. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. G

Goodwin, A., Sonnert, G., & Sadler, P.M. (2015). The influence of out-of-school high school experiences on engineering identities and career choice. Paper presented at the Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Association of Engineering Educators.

7)         Billig, S.H., Jesse, D., Broderson, R.M., & Grimley, M. (2008). Promoting secondary students’ character development through service- learning. Advances in Service-Learning Research, 57-83.

Furco, A., Burton, L., Toussaint, D., Kent, K., & Glatze, K. (2010). Project Heart, Head, Hands (H3): A Language Arts-Based Character Education Program for Elementary Schools – Final Research Report. A report to the Partnership in Character Education Program. Submitted to the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC, 87 pages.