Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nancy Evans


Service-learning provides a tool for higher education institutions to focus on student learning and development, while contributing to the needs of communities and society. The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning students made of their service-learning experiences and how these experiences contributed to student learning and self-awareness. This understanding clarified connections students made between academic achievement, self-awareness, life experiences, and service-learning.;This study was conducted at Central College, a four-year, liberal arts college, in Pella, Iowa. The participants were enrolled in a psychology course where service-learning was integrated into course requirements. The data collection methods utilized were a combination of focus group interviews, individual in-depth interviews, and document analysis (student journals).;Students shared the following elements were key to their service-learning experiences and contributed to their learning and self-awareness: structured reflection, articulated purposes and goals, concrete experiences to coincide with course material, the role of the professor, and the interaction and establishment of relationships with others.;The experiences that students had involving service played a role in their learning and self-development. These experiences became an intertwined web connected to each other, all contributing to how students made connections between life experiences, academic achievement, self-awareness and service-learning.;Students learned from their actual lived service-learning experiences. These experiences provided a direct link between learning of course material and actual application of what they learned to their service site. Through service-learning, students made connections with their personal and intellectual development. The emotional power of these service-learning experiences helped students connect with what was occurring in the classroom; therefore, learning was enhanced. It became a more holistic learning environment engaging students' minds, as well as their hearts.;Students developed a better sense of self-awareness when challenged to interact with others in diverse environments. Exposure and experiences through service-learning provided opportunities for students to evaluate their views, morals, and beliefs, as well as future career and personal goals.;Service-learning is an avenue where practical and academic knowledge become integrated. It is through this integration that higher education professionals can foster successful and holistic learning environments for students.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Maribeth Iona Wright



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

230 pages