Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Service learning-Psychological aspects, Voluntarism-Psychological aspects, College students-Psychology, Identity (Philosophical concept), Responsibility in adolescence, Volunteering, Emerging adults, Adolescents, College students, Identity formation, Social responsibility, Qualitative


This qualitative study explores the impact of service learning experiences on identity formation and social responsibility in emerging adult college students. Utilizing purposeful convenience sampling, fourteen college students at a liberal arts college in the northeast were interviewed about their nonprofit volunteer experience. Study results indicated that service learning experience positively impacted the identity formation processes of participants by allowing for identity integration and continuity, exposure to idealized mentors in the field, space for reflection on professional identity, and a deeper understanding of social responsibility. This study has implications for clinical social workers because it offers in-depth insight into the experiences of emerging adults. By understanding and supporting the impact of service learning experiences on emerging adults, we can acknowledge an interdisciplinary dialogue about the fostering of shared values and a commitment to social justice that expands beyond the social work field.




69 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-64)