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Elon senior and mentor publish research on intergenerational service learning

Emily Delaplane '14 conducted a study with Professor Cindy Fair of the way second grade students interacted with older adults in local retirement communities.

Elon University senior Emily Delaplane, a human service studies and public health studies double major, worked with Professor Cindy Fair on an article published recently in the Early Childhood Education Journal.

"'It is Good to Spend Time with Older Adults. You Can Teach Them, They Can Teach You': Second Grade Students Reflect on Intergenerational Service Learning" was the result of a longitudinal study that followed 31 second-grade students who participated in a year-long intergenerational service-learning project.

Children made monthly visits to older adults, referred to as ‘grandfriends’ by teachers, at local retirement communities. Delaplane examined how children use writing to reflect on their service learning and to analyze how children characterize changes in their relationships with older adults.

The children were interviewed at the beginning and end of the school year and responded to guided prompts in a service-learning journal throughout the year. Analyses revealed that children’s understanding of what older people can and cannot do became more detailed and complex and that the children were able to effectively reflect upon their experiences through writing.

Children demonstrated an ability to take multiple perspectives as well as reflect upon their emotions. Journals reflected an understanding of the reciprocal nature of relationships; that children and grandfriends learned from each other.

Findings suggest that relatively young children can effectively use writing journals to reflect upon their service-learning experiences and that intergenerational service-learning provides rich opportunities for improved cross-generational understanding.

Delaplane, a native of Hockessin, Del., will attend West Chester University outside of Philadelphia this fall to pursue her Masters in Social Work. Professor Cindy Fair in the Department of Human Service Studies served as her research mentor.

Eric Townsend,
3/27/2014 3:10 PM