Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Saundra Murray Nettles

Committee Member 2

William Reynolds

Committee Member 3

John Weaver

Committee Member 3 Email



This is the study of cultivating cultural workers through service learning in teacher education. The five participants Kathy (European American), Denise (African American), Alberto (Hispanic American), McKenzie (African American), and Zena (African American) were pre-service teachers enrolled in a developmental reading program at a college in Southwest Georgia where service learning was the major conceptual framework. The five participants were born in the mid 1980s, attended high schools in Georgia in the U. S., and entered colleges in the Fall of 2004. My passion for this inquiry is driven by my desire to foster a sense of agency for social justice and transformation for positive changes in the community. During the collaborative research process, we shared our intense feelings about what it means to serve to the community, the importance of reading, and our outlook on the teaching field. Part of the challenge in writing this dissertation was to develop an inquiry method relevant to the study. The inquiry method used in this study is a combination of community based research and narrative inquiry--community based narrative inquiry. The most important finding of the study is that there is a need for developing a preservice education curriculum with service learning as the major conceptual framework to empower pre-service teachers to become cultural workers for the community and agents for social justice and social change. The theoretical framework of my dissertation inquiry draws upon the works of John Dewey (1938), Paulo Freire (1970), Anna Julia Cooper (1892), and W.E.B. DuBois (1920). John Dewey is the primary theorist of the theoretical framework for this study. Dewey was a proponent in reflective thinking which is an integral part of the service learning experience. Using experience and consciousness to make reading come alive is the reason that Freire's work is vital to this study. Cooper's mantra of lifting as we climb and her work with underprepared students makes her work significant to the theoretical framework. DuBois theory of education as a practice of freedom and consciousness also contributes to the theoretical framework of this dissertation inquiry which helps perceive service learning as a way of connecting education with life in the school and community, as a participatory and liberating process, as community based initiatives and outcomes, and as ways of raising critical consciousness, fostering empowerment, and building community to cultivate pre-service teachers to become cultural workers. Though my study focused on pre-service teachers enrolled in a developmental reading program, it has significance for recognition for developing a curriculum with service learning as the major conceptual framework. It has implications for policymakers, teacher educators, and communities of the importance to work together to prepare preservice teachers to become cultural workers in an increasingly diversifying world.

Research Data and Supplementary Material