Qualitative Content Analysis of Service Learning Portfolios of Graduate Students in an International Faith-Based Institution
Service learning has been practiced in all educational levels, especially in higher education (Brennan, 2017; Harkavy & Hartley, 2010). Research studies (Holsapple, 2012; Schelbe, Petracchi, & Weaver, 2014) showed that students who engage in service learning develop increased sense of social justice, greater sensitivity and empathy toward others, higher cultural competence, better multicultural skills, and lower stereotyping tendencies, among other positive outcomes. Anchored on John Dewey’s pragmatism (Maddux & Donnett, 2015), this study used qualitative content analysis to assess the service learning portfolios of 18 graduate students in an international faith-based institution. These service learning portfolios were submitted from 2010-2017. Findings showed that the participants engaged in activities that benefited the church, the institution, community groups within the institution, and the outside community. Beneficiaries were mainly the vulnerable and marginalized groups. The participants claimed that through their engagement in service learning they developed competence and professional identify, felt joy and empathy in serving others, and found meaning and purpose in life. This study affirmed best practices in the area of service learning and recommended improvements in the implementation of the institution’ s service learning program.
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