This study aims to expand dialogues on service learning and its applicability in early childhood (EC) teacher education programs. It consists of two parts: 1) self-studies of two courses and 2) students’ learning and difficulties from the courses. Each course was situated in different contexts and levels of EC teacher education programs in Seoul, South Korea, and the courses incorporated key elements of service learning into programs with different foci and strengths. Students in both courses reported that various course activities helped them discover a close link between their service and learning. Moreover, they shared three meaningful learning components: they could 1) encounter unfamiliar social issues and practice critical thinking, 2) acquire an in-depth understanding of young children and education, and 3) shift from passive to active learning. Yet, they also expressed a few specific difficulties and challenges. This study draws insights and lessons about the possibilities of incorporating service learning into EC teacher education programs; it also shows that key elements of service learning (authentic context, link to curriculum, reflection, and learning by doing) can be naturally integrated into courses within EC teacher education programs.
- Service learning
- early childhood teacher education