Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Salina Shrofel

Abstract

Students at an alternative high school located in a northern Midwest state demonstrated low science achievement and high rates of student absenteeism. Students who do not attend school regularly and achieve in science courses are at risk of not graduating from high school, so teachers at the study school implemented a 16-day service-learning project embedded in a Grade 10 environmental science unit. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of 10th-grade students' participation in the service-learning project on student science achievement and attendance. The theoretical framework was Kearsley and Shneiderman's engagement theory. Archival data from school and teacher records were used for this quasi-experimental pretest–posttest control group study. Data from 114 students enrolled in 6 sections of Grade 10 general science classes were retrieved. The Mann-Whitney U test was calculated to determine the difference in science achievement change scores and the difference in number of absent days between students who participated in the service-learning project and students who did not. The findings showed a significant difference for science achievement gain scores (U = 1,982.5, p = .042) but not for days absent (U = 2,048, p = .008). A professional development project was created for high school science teachers focused on implementing service-learning projects, which included suggestions on how to get students excited about attending the service-learning project and school. The findings from this study could be used to guide district decision-making about embedding service-learning projects into science courses to improve student achievement in science, thus, achieving positive social change.

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