Undergraduate Embedded Service Learning Courses
The Oakland University Department of Reading and Language Arts offers all of their undergraduate literacy teaching methods courses in a unique embedded service learning format.
“Embedded” means that the course meets at a community Partnership site. Currently, we have five partnership schools across three districts. In Pontiac School District, we partner with Alcott, Herrington, and Whitman Elementary schools. In Avondale School District, we partner with Deerfield Elementary. In Troy School District, we partner with Leonard Elementary. Being embedded at a school site provides unique opportunities for the course professor to partner with K-5 teachers at the sites to provide live modeling of literacy practices during class.
“Service learning” means that our teacher candidates provide literacy assessment and instruction, one-on-one and in small groups, for children at the school in which they are embedded. Each teacher candidate teaches for 10 hours per semester, so across our courses we provide approximately 4,600 hours of free tutoring to children in surrounding communities per year. Each year, we support 13-16 school events at our partnership sites. These include such activities as parent and literacy nights.
Our embedded service learning courses are designed to allow for several best practices in teacher preparation, the first two of which are unique to this context.
- Teacher candidates teach and receive coaching and feedback during in-the-moment from their course professor who is a literacy expert.
- Teacher candidates engage in integrating digital technologies, culturally relevant pedagogies, and in utilizing a critical lens as part of literacy assessment and instruction methods.
- Teacher candidates engage in video-based individual and collaborative reflective practices about literacy assessment and instruction.
- Teacher candidates demonstrate their pedagogical learning through video-based competency assignments that show how their practices align with course goals.
Our embedded service learning courses reflect the commitment to community partnership work by Oakland University and the School of Education and Human Services. In particular, they address the School of Education and Human Services’ mission of "community engagement." Further, they reflect Oakland University’s partnership with both Avondale School District and the City of Pontiac. We are grateful to our school partners who do this work in collaboration with us.