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ERIC Number: EJ1131998
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0151
Helping the Me Generation Decenter: Service Learning with Refugees
Hawkins, LouAnne B.; Kaplan, Leslie G.
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, v17 n2 p157-175 Fall-Win 2016
Recent research has empirically demonstrated that young adults today are different from prior generations in their decreased empathy, increased narcissism, and decreased civic engagement. The formative years of young adulthood are a critical period for the development of civic values and civil ideologies, a time when college-age adults need to acquire the experiences and skills to decenter and develop into civic-minded stewards of their communities. Engagement in service learning with individuals unlike themselves, i.e., outgroup members, is the approach that has been taken at the University of North Florida to encourage this decentering through service learning engagement with refugees embedded in an honors colloquium during students' first term in college. They took a three-pronged approach to the assessment of the impact of this service learning engagement. In the first approach, evaluations of student responses to open-ended questions provided evidence of a reduction in their self-centeredness and increases in social empathy and multicultural competence. The second approach confirmed these changes in decentering by showing that honors students who were engaged in more interactive service projects with refugees scored higher on two measures of empathy--i.e., the Basic Empathy Scale Basic Empathy Scale ( Jolliffe & Farrington) and the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire (Spreng et al.)--than did students engaged in less interactive service projects with refugees. In the final approach, evaluations of artifacts from the course suggested that levels of decentering, empathy, and civic action differed for students who had intensive versus superficial interactions with refugees. Taken together, findings from the three assessment approaches converged to offer support for the value of intensive and interactive service learning experiences in which students interact closely with individuals unlike themselves. These authors discuss implications for the impact of service learning experiences like those in the honors colloquium described here on decreasing self-absorption and increasing civic engagement. They then outline limitations of the three approaches as well as the potential for future research.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A