Value Added: Service-Learning Outcomes for Physical Therapy Students and Community Partners in Belize

Candace L Beitman, Julie Gahimer, William Staples


This study comprised a follow up to a two-week interdisciplinary service-learning (SL) trip to Belize for graduate students from a private Midwestern university. Trip participants engaged in SL activities with multiple partnering agencies in various locations. The purpose of the study, which employed a qualitative, constructivist, focus-group design, was to explore the perceptions of students and community partners about the services provided. Data were analyzed for common themes using line-by-line and constant comparative methods. Six themes emerged from the data.  Community partners complimented the education and training provided, and requested additional time and programming for future visits. Some identified the need for increased collaboration and additional preparation of students prior to the visit. Students demonstrated increased appreciation for interdisciplinary practice, enhanced professionalism, and greater sensitivity to cultural differences, and expressed their desire to participate in future international service trips. These findings supported the conclusion that interdisciplinary international SL activities are mutually beneficial to students and community partners.


service-learning, community engagement, international, interdisciplinary

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