Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Carol Sisson

Second Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Third Advisor

Todd Ream


The present study sought to understand the impact of service-learning courses on students’ attitudes and goals toward education and future civic engagement. The research gathered responses from eight college students who participated in a service-learning course titled “Small Island Sustainability” that took place in the Bahamas. The following three research questions guided the study: 1) How do immersive service-learning courses impact attitudes toward future civic engagement? 2) How do immersive service-learning courses impact goals of future civic engagement? 3) How has a service-learning experience impacted the view of the importance of education? The study utilized a grounded theory design, resulting in a core theory emerging from participant responses: experiential learning impacts the way students view their major and the contributions they can make in the world. By engaging in course content alongside meaningful service, students gain a broader understanding of to contribute to their community. Major themes supported the theory: benefits of experiential learning, cooperative learning, increased engagement of course content, increased community involvement, and changed behaviors. Implications for higher education practice include more service-learning courses that allow students to discover ways to renew their community through their education.