Fostering Undergraduate Spiritual Growth Through Service-Learning

Michelle Sterk Barrett


Scholars and educational leaders have expressed concern that higher education is not adequately meeting students’ desire for spiritual growth within an academic context. Prior studies have demonstrated a relationship between the pedagogical method of service-learning and spiritual development. This study analyzed the relationship between specific service-learning components and the occurrence of spiritual growth in an effort to better understand how such growth can be fostered within the curriculum. Findings indicated that spiritual growth occurred when students experienced significant challenge balanced with support. Challenge was initiated when students witnessed injustice while simultaneously being exposed to new, diverse perspectives in class. Support emerged from relationships as well as the effective integration of coursework with the service experience.    


service-learning; spiritual growth; college student spirituality

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