Publication Date

2005

Abstract

This research paper asks a question: Will Azerbaijani students, teachers, and community (in Mingachevir) be receptive to service-learning as a non-traditional education option? Will this particular community welcome the idea of bringing service-learning into an Azerbaijani classroom? The pilot project, coordinated between the Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Mingachevir and the community of the given area, does answer the questions above. Twenty four students, seven teachers of the School #3 and the Lyceum, and five community members participated in the Service-Learning Garden project and were my interviewees for this capstone paper. Using a case study methodology, I summarized all sets of data (observation, interviews and student journals) with four options of responses and highest vs. lowest percentage rates for the interviews included in the tables. Thus, as a research methodology I used qualitative research methods with semi-structured questionnaires for my interviews. I found that this specific community in Mingachevir is open to the application of new innovations in education and willing to make a commitment in order to promote students' learning of new skills and knowledge. Almost half of the respondents (50%) suggested and requested extending this particular service-learning project or creeating more such projects in the future. This was a voluntary suggestion. After their service, students emphasized the group work with their peers was what they learned after their service. Several students during my site visit to their greenhouse and school said that they developed problem-solving skills and felt free in expressing their opinions, as opposed to how they felt in their controlled class environment. The obtained outcomes led me to believe that with the inspiration and motivation of the community, successful models of service-learning can be implemented in the region of Mingachevir and with better advertisement, they can even be expanded to other communities in Azerbaijan.

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