Spirituality and service learning in US higher education : three exploratory portraits and questions for future research
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thesis / dissertation description
In the United States, spirituality has been gaining attention not only in the popular media but also in higher education. Some forms of experiential learning such as service-learning and community-based learning have also gained attention by academicians and researchers in higher education. Although religion and spirituality have played a key role in higher education for centuries, literature that specifically addresses the intersection of spirituality and service-learning is limited and unclear. Consequently, this research sought to explore some manifestations of current practice of integrating spirituality into service-learning courses in order to see what questions future researchers might want to ask. Following an exploratory research design, this study addressed the question: "What does the practice of professors who integrate spirituality into service-learning classes suggest about the need for further research on this issue?" This study employed a case study methodology to gain an in-depth understanding of the issue. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three professors at private universities in the Western United States who were selected based on the recommendation of his/her school's service-learning administrator and pre-set criteria. Supplemental data were collected from other appropriate resources and documents. The data were compiled, synthesized and summarized to produce three individual cases. The results, which include three portraits, were analyzed in a cross-case analysis. Areas for future research, particularly in the areas of language, curriculum development and the reflection process, were suggested.