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In their article “Students Make Sure the Cherokees Are Not Removed . . . Again: A Study of Service-Learning and Artful Learning in Teaching History.” Alice W. Terry and Thomas Panter provide a convincing review of a participatory classroom action research based in the Middle school in the state of Georgia. The article discusses the implementation of service-learning approach combined with Artful Learning Model in a history class. The argument goes that such combination is a natural fit for any classroom, which promotes self-efficacy and metacognition of the students as well as their improved results on the school standard test.

The study was conducted on the eighth-grade students in a suburban Torrance Middle School and was based on gifted students. The characteristics of the gifted students were provided according to national and state standards. Also, the concepts of Bernstein Artful Learning Model and Service-Learning were explained. One of the authors was the participating teacher who designed a unit in the History course on the topic of the Trail of Tears using the combination of the above mentioned teaching methods. The study used primary data such as interviews, observation notes, pretests and posttests, videos, etc. The questions of the research were exploratory and addressed areas like the program’s overall impact on the students, the effect of the program on the students’ content learning, and the effects of the employed methods on the student participants.

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The article provides a condensed account of the period of study from its very beginning to the end. The author narrates the events in quite an illustrative manner using direct quotes from the students and himself abundantly. The dialogues occurring in the classroom are provided for the readers, allowing for better understanding of the interaction happening in the class. While this part of the study is rather engaging and informative, it is also unusual for a traditional research article. Researchers coming from a quantitative background may find some difficulty justifying such a personal account in a scientific research.

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The study acknowledges its limitations as to the applicability of the study finding to other settings. It also justifies the use of direct quotes from the students. However, there are some questions the reader might have that remain unanswered. As an example, the study doesn’t mention the ethical considerations of the given research at all. Nothing is mentioned about informed consent of the participants. The readers are left wondering about this question, which can undermine the reliability of the study. Moreover, while this is a qualitative study, the researchers do use quantitative data like pretests and posttests. The study states that the scores of the students who took part in the research were higher on the multiple-choice test than those of students’ taught using traditional methods. The study could benefit from an appendix, for instance, including at least an extract of that test and some discussion of the results.

The findings of the study suggest that a combination of service-learning and Artful Learning models was highly beneficial for the students. They were able to grasp historical concepts better and relate them to the present day issues. Moreover, they were more engaged in the lessons and used the knowledge they received in class to influence existing issues in their community. The students’ ability to think critically increased and a lot of them felt like they were able to apply their school knowledge to real world and make an impact on public matters.

One can see that the present article is an example of innovative approaches used successfully in a classroom setting. The study provides valuable data and serves as an encouragement for its replication in other settings. It would be of much interest to see what kind of results these models yield in other geographical areas and age level of students.

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