Moral development in preschool is a component of social and emotional development, which also includes self-regulation, interpersonal skills, and school readiness. While service-learning has demonstrated significant benefits to the social-emotional development of older students, very little research has examined the effects of service-learning with young children. The purpose of this study was to create an academic curriculum that would provide preschool children (3 to 5 years old) with a developmentally-appropriate approach to service-learning, and determine if such a curriculum had a measurable effect on naturalistic empathy. Children in two classrooms received a preliminary empathy score based on number of empathetic behaviors relative to time observed. Children in the experimental classroom engaged in a series of lesson plans designed to guide their self-selected service-learning project. Participants in the experimental classroom created an intergenerational project that directly served the residents of a nursing home across the street from their school. A subsequent assessment of empathy measured moral development as a result of the service-learning in comparison to the normal growth and development observed in the control classroom. Results indicate if participation in service-learning increases the number of observed empathetic behaviors. Implications and recommendations for further research are also discussed.
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Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Education
Early Childhood Development and Education
Dissertations, Academic -- Education;Education -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Paris, Elizabeth, "Examining the moral development of young children and their naturalistic displays of empathy through service-learning experiences in preschool" (2011). HIM 1990-2015. 1175.