The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Learning about Social Diversity in a Community-Based Research Service-Learning Project: Changing Students’ Conceptions and the Impact on Individual Behaviour

Janine Bittner, Ruhr University Bochum, Institute of Geography (Germany)

Janina Kempchen, Westphalia-Lippe Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Germany)


Diversity learning experiences of students occurring in experiential learning settings in higher education are regarded as very valuable to enhance moral development and support students to be or become active citizens in an increasingly diverse society. While the general impact of service-learning and community-based research and the positive influence on students’ skill acquisition has been extensively studied, there are limited empirical studies that focus specifically on diversity aspects. The aim of our investigation was to expand this empirical basis. Our qualitative interview study was conceived as an accompanying research of a community-based service-learning project dealing with social inequality, poverty and homelessness in the Ruhr Area. We described the course participants’ conceptions of social diversity, investigated students’ experiences with social diversity during coursework, asked how the understanding changed or was expanded and what relevance this had for students’ behaviour. We examined these questions by conducting qualitative online interviews (N=13) via Zoom with the course participants. The audio data were coded by qualitative content analysis using inductive and deductive approaches to answer our research questions.

Keywords: learning diversity, student conceptions, higher education, experiential learning, community-based research, service-learning


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