Best Practices in Service-Learning in Higher Education for Achieving Positive Effects on Students
Morris, Melinda Rogers
I plan to format my dissertation in the style of publishable piece that is focused on student outcomes of service-learning with a major emphasis on its effects on altering students’ negative stereotypes. I will draw from the research and theory literature of service-learning and the literature in surrounding fields and interdisciplinary areas including the literature on experiential learning, cognitive development, stereotyping, and prejudice. My dissertation seeks to fill a niche and advance the field by providing suggestions for best practices for service-learning where the goals are to advance cognitive development, personal development, and civic engagement and reduce stereotyping and prejudice in students. The benefits of combining service and learning appear to be great. However, not enough research exists to clarify just what about service-learning is so powerful for achieving positive impacts on college students. I propose to do a thorough, critical, and integrative review of the literature about service-learning regarding best practices for its use in higher education as well as the literature in other fields and interdisciplinary areas. The overarching theories that will drive my inquiry are the two major competing theories regarding conceptualizing stereotypes- as an individual or a collective representation. Important in my dissertation will be a thorough examination of these two perspectives and their differing implications for how stereotypes can be impacted through the use of service-learning in undergraduate education.