Roberts, R., English, C., and Alston, A. (2020). Fostering identity development in teacher preparation: Service-learning's role in empowering agricultural education majors to teach STEM concepts. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(3), 214-232. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2020.03214
Existing evidence has demonstrated that educators often lack the competencies required to address science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related issues and problems when teaching. As such, a need existed to identify ways to help preservice students negotiate meaning, construct knowledge, and become empowered to facilitate the teaching and learning of STEM in agriculture – a concept known as STEM identity development. One method of instruction used to achieve such is service-learning (SL). This study's purpose, therefore, was to describe the role of SL in empowering agricultural education majors at North Carolina A&T State University to expand their STEM identity
over one academic semester. Findings revealed that as the project progressed, students articulated their SL experiences helped them evolve in three dimensions: (1) competence, (2) performance, and (3) recognition. However, students' ability to construct a more mature STEM identity was also filtered their unique contextual lenses as they engaged with racially diverse populations during the SL project. Moving forward, we recommend that teacher preparation programs more purposefully feature STEM focused,
SL experiences in teaching methods courses. Perhaps, such a curricular change could help better recognize, support, and leverage the identity trajectories of students while also ensuring that opportunities to feature STEM concepts in agricultural education continue to be expanded.