Effect of Cognitive Disequilibrium on Preservice Teachers Using Constructivist Service Learning

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Stefan Ward, Mark I. Perez and Heidi Henschel Pellett, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA

Background/Purpose Service-learning is a teaching method that provides opportunities where students learn by doing, serving, and then reflecting on their experiences (Galvan & Parker, 2011). Cognitive Disequilibrium refers refer to the experience of a discrepancy between something new and something already known or believed (Cooper, 2007). A Constructivist approach was used to allow eight physical education school health PSTs to create and implement their own program for teaching wellness concepts in a summer program. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of cognitive disequilibrium (CD) created when PSTs utilize social constructivism in service-learning in a non-traditional setting.

Method Eight pre-service teachers participated in the qualitative study. Data sources included planning session videos, teaching reflection videos, formal interviews, lesson plans, and researcher field notes. The data from the videos and interviews were transcribed verbatim.

Analysis/Results Analysis was performed utilizing open and axial coding (Corbin & Strauss, 2010). Trustworthiness strategies included triangulation of multiple data sources, peer debriefing of the video and transcription, and member checks with the participants. Results indicated four themes: empowerment, transformation, relatedness, and resistance.

Conclusions The participants reported that the CD experience was ultimately positive. This process of utilizing constructivism aligned well with service-learning and generated a transformative effect that was catalyzed by the CD experience of being outside their comfort zone. Consequently, many of these PSTs were empowered to change their assumptions about themselves, their teaching, and working with diverse youth.