College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph Ferrari, PhD

Second Advisor

Megan Greeson, PhD

Third Advisor

Olya Glantsman, PhD


Outcomes for students engaging in service learning are well documented and accepted throughout educational literature. However, less is known about how community partners perceive service learning. A convergent mixed methods approach was used to examine the perceptions of community partners engaged in service learning activities. In the first phase of the current study, community partner perceptions were explored using extant focus group data. Five themes were identified: experiences with students, experiences with the Steans Center, service learning impacts on organizational capacity, perceptions of university partnerships, and other community partner perceptions. Experiences with students included five subthemes: (a) student work; (b) positive views and experience, (c) continued service beyond required hours; (d) reciprocity and mutual benefit; and (e) challenges. Experiences with the Steans Center included two subthemes: positive views and experiences and challenges. In the second phase of the current study, evaluation survey data was analyzed. Community partners rated experiences with students the highest, followed by experiences with the Steans Center, and finally, experiences with faculty. Additionally, community partners engaged in project-based service learning reported higher ratings for faculty and communication. Open-ended survey comments endorsed many codes from Phase 1; however, one emergent code regarding unclear expectations around relationships with faculty emerged. Finally, results from both phases of the current study were integrated. There were substantial areas of agreement between both phases of the study, which add to our understanding of service learning from the perspective of community partners and can inform service learning practice. However, disagreement between studies suggests more research is needed to understand how community partners view faculty and their role in service learning activities. Results of this study provide insight into how community partners experience service learning and how university-community partnerships can better serve community partner organizations.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons