Faculty conceptualizations of global service-learning: Envisioning change, doing damage, and the role of identity

Open Access
Arends, Jessica Hope
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 16, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Dissertation Advisor
  • Elizabeth A Smolcic, Dissertation Advisor
  • Christine M Thompson, Committee Member
  • Esther Susana Prins, Special Member
  • global service-learning
  • faculty
  • motivations
  • critical reflection
  • community impacts
  • identity
In higher education, the number of service-based courses and student experiences has increased considerably over the past few years, especially those with the purpose of developing global citizenship skills (Bringle, Hatcher, & Jones, 2010; Hunter, White, & Godbey, 2006). Indeed, advocates claim that service-learning facilitates two long-standing goals of higher education: to prepare students for citizenship and the ability to understand and appreciate other cultures (Bringle et al., 2010). However, much of the service-learning research remains evaluative in order to defend the legitimacy of the practice rather than investigate how the pedagogy works (Billig & Eyler, 2003). Also, while faculty members often drive the design, implementation and assessment of service-learning courses, very few studies on service-learning practitioners in higher education have been conducted. This study found evidence from faculty reflection sessions of how service-learning practitioners at a large mid-Atlantic university conceptualize their service-learning practice conducted both domestically and abroad. Identifying the conceptualizations and understanding the differences among them provides insight into the motivations, theories and goals that inform service-learning practice. Specifically, this study shows that faculty value global service-learning as a method for creating personal and social change, have concerns about negatively affecting students and communities, and that their personal identities shape their service-learning theory.