Immersing Students in the Culture of Disability Through Service Learning

Rosa Milagros Santos, Andrea L. Ruppar, Laurie M. Jeans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article provides a description of service learning implemented in an introductory special education course focused on the culture of disability. Collaborating with liaisons from five community service organizations, students provided services to individuals with disabilities in a variety of projects across two semesters. Communication and collaboration at all phases of the project were essential to ensuring that service learning was salient to the organization and meaningful to the students. The students presented a final report about their service-learning project and individually submitted a paper reflecting on their experience. Pre- and post-ratings of students’ perspectives of the culture of disability were gathered. Students reported increased knowledge related to course content, and all participants reported satisfaction with the projects. Strategies that proved successful in assisting students accomplish their project goals are discussed. Recommendations for the use of service learning in personnel preparation of future special educators are presented.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-63
JournalTeacher Education and Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • special education
  • service learning
  • teacher preparation practices and outcomes

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