Examining the impact of participating in a high dissonance service-learning program on the global perspectives and global citizenship of college students studying abroad

  • Roy Pietro

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Many universities in the U.S. point to participation in study abroad programs as evidence of their institutional efficacy in fostering global citizens. While a cursory review of student development outcomes after participating in traditional study abroad programs did not seem to support this contention, some evidence of global citizenship development after students participated in international service-learning programs was noted in the literature. This research study examined learning outcomes from 29 students from the University of Connecticut who had previously participated in a high dissonance service-learning program in Cape Town, South Africa. It was hoped that a better understanding of the nature and persistence of any perspective transformation that occurred, as indicated by changes in global perspectives and enhanced global citizenship development.The data analysis found evidence that the vast majority of participants had experienced a perspective transformation. The data also indicates that these perspective transformations appear to have fostered one or more sub-dimensions of transformative global citizenship (global consciousness, enthocultural empathy and a social justice orientation), which persisted over time. Two-thirds of the study participants indicated that they had experienced a perspective transformation leading to transformative global citizenship development. These same participants went on to take transformative action related to making the world a better place. The multi-phased data analysis process re-examined the participant data using the literature on transformative learning and critical service-learning theory as a pedagogical lens for interpretation.The findings indicate that critical reflection and discourse pertaining to personal experiences with high socio-economic dissonance during the program, coped with personal connections with individuals of considerably less privilege from the under-resourced host communities, had played a substantial role in fostering perspective transformations that persisted over time and led to transformative global citizenship actions. Implications for theory and practice were discussed, and avenues for future research identified.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRichard Watermeyer (Supervisor) & Robin Shields (Supervisor)

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