The Emotional Component of Service-Learning

The interest in and acceptance of service learning has insufficiently addressed the inextricable emotional linkage to all of its functions. Utilizing Coles’ conceptualization of the intricate role of emotion in service-learning, this study  explored how and why emotion and feeling are central to college students’ service learning experiences. Multiple data sources were collected across three consecutive semesters from a total of 42 college students who participated in the same service learning program in southeastern United States. Inductive analyses revealed wide-ranging and ever-changing breadth of emotion were experienced across and within participating college students, particularly emotional states that reflected Coles’ hazards of “arrogance, anger, and bitterness” and satisfaction of “something done, someone reached.” Regardless whether satisfying or hazardous emotion states were felt, they were mainly the result of students’ previous service experiences and/or expectations. Implications of these results for future research and the design of service-learning programs are discussed.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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