The Effects of Situated Learning Through a Community Partnership in a Teacher Preparation Program
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This article examines the value of using an alternative approach to college course instruction in an off-campus location, an agency for individuals with developmental disabilities. The situated learning model is an alternative to the traditional college course instructional approach for preservice teachers. This model immerses students in the actual setting where they can practice the skills and apply the concepts emphasized in the curriculum. Through a partnership between the college, the community agency, and a public school, graduate students in the special education program developed and implemented a life-skills curriculum for individuals with developmental disabilities, at the same time learning essential principles of delivering instruction. The school-aged students who participated in the study were from a racially mixed urban school district, while the adult clients from the community agency attended the program at the end of their community-based workday. Based on the results of surveys and focus group discussions, participants in the study indicated that the situated learning model of instruction in a community setting better prepared them in the acquisition and application of their teaching skills, and built their competence in developing educational programs for individuals with disabilities.