Layered Learning, Eustress, and Support: Impact of a Pre-Service-Learning Training on Students’ Self-Efficacy in Teaching in the Community

Natalie K. Cooke, Anne K. Pursifull, Kerry M. Jones, L. Suzanne Goodell


Service-learning programs provide students with opportunities to gain discipline-specific skills, while providing community organizations with a steady pool of volunteers. However, because students may lack the skills needed to effectively serve the community, skills-based training may need to be incorporated into service-learning courses. Students in a community nutrition service-learning course engaged in 7 weeks of training before teaching a 6-week-long nutrition education course to community members. The training included three layers of activities: (1) basic activities, which introduced the students to material necessary to build skills for their service-learning experience; (2) directed activities, which allowed them to refine a targeted skillset; (3) and collective activities, which allowed for the application of multiple skills. Through qualitative interviews with 12 of the 19 students who had been enrolled in the course, we determined the impact of a pre-service-learning training program on the development of the skills necessary to successfully teach a nutrition education course. Thematic analysis of the data revealed two major themes: (1) “layered learning” activities facilitate skill building and (2) a stressful, yet supportive, environment facilitates growth. Together, these aspects of course design allow students to develop skills and their self-efficacy in those skills. Therefore, instructors who plan to incorporate service-learning into their nutrition courses may benefit from designing a pre-service-learning training to improve student learning outcomes.


service-learning, self-efficacy, educational theory

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ISSN 1527-9316