Implementation of service -learning in higher education courses: Perceptions of faculty

Mary Helen Hayden, Florida International University


This study examined the motivation of college and university faculty to implement service-learning into their traditional courses. The benefits derived by faculty, as well as those issues of maintenance, including supports and/or obstacles, were also investigated in relation to their impact on motivation. The focus was on generating theory from the emerging data. Data were collected from interviews with 17 faculty teaching courses that included a component of service-learning. A maximum variation sampling of participants from six South Florida colleges and universities was utilized. Faculty participants represented a wide range of academic disciplines, faculty ranks, years of experience in teaching and using service-learning as well as gender and ethnic diversity. For data triangulation, a focus group with eight additional college faculty was conducted and documents, including course syllabi and institutional service-learning handbooks, collected during the interviews were examined. The interviews were transcribed and coded using traditional methods as well as with the assistance of the computerized assisted qualitative data analysis software, Atlas.ti. The data were organized into five major categories with themes and sub-themes emerging for each. While intrinsic or personal factors along with extrinsic factors all serve to influence faculty motivation, the study's findings revealed that the primary factors influencing faculty motivation to adopt service-learning were those that were intrinsic or personal in nature. These factors included: (a) past experiences, (b) personal characteristics including the value of serving, (c) involvement with community service, (d) interactions and relationships with peers, (e) benefits to students, (f) benefits to teaching, and (g) perceived career benefits. Implications and recommendations from the study encompass suggestions for administrators in higher education institutions for supporting and encouraging faculty adoption of service-learning including a well developed infrastructure as well as incentives, particularly during the initial implementation period, rewards providing recognition for the academic nature of service-learning and support for the development of peer relationships among service-learning faculty.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Hayden, Mary Helen, "Implementation of service -learning in higher education courses: Perceptions of faculty" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3165145.