Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Maureen Ellis


K-12 teachers in a large metropolitan school district in the Northeast United States experienced difficulties integrating service learning into the curriculum due to state-based curriculum standards. The purpose of this descriptive case study was to explore K-12 teachers’ perceptions of barriers to, and best practices that support, implementation of service learning into the curriculum while considering state-based curriculum standards. Cooperrider and Srivastva’s theory of appreciative inquiry, which emphasizes assets rather than deficits within organizational structures, was used as the conceptual framework that guided data collection and analysis. Research questions were used to describe the perceived barriers to, and best practices for, implementation of service learning into the K-12 curriculum. Data were collected using an open-ended web-based survey and semistructured interviews with 19 K-12 teachers. Data were analyzed inductively to identify open codes, categories, and emergent themes. Findings included three perceived barriers to implementation of service learning into the curriculum (time, curriculum misalignment, and lack of support) and three perceived best practices to support service-learning implementation (establishing group norms, building on current best practices, and authentic learning opportunities). These findings were employed to develop a 3-day professional development training for K-12 teachers who plan to implement service learning. Implications for social change include improved application of strengths-based approaches to deliver service learning and a transformative strategy to create opportunities for students to experience authentic, real-world service-learning opportunities aligned to state-based standards.