Service-Learning in Higher Education and Prosocial Identity Formation

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. For most nonprofits, their effectiveness, sustainability, and survival all depend on the willingness of individuals to behave in prosocial ways, for example, by giving time, money, and/or resources to various organizations and causes. Scholars have, therefore, long sought to identify predictors of prosocial behaviors; and, one consistently significant variable in this quest has been prosocial role identity. Indeed, the strength of this identity, studies have shown, positively predicts participation in a variety of prosocial activities. Despite this significance, research on service-learning, a widely utilized pedagogical practice intended to prepare prosocially active and engaged citizens, has been largely disconnected from the literature on identity motivated behavior. Yet, this literature provides a strong conceptual foundation for understanding why, when, how, and for whom participation in service-learning will be associated with positive changes in prosocial identities—and, ultimately sustained participation in role-related prosocial behaviors. In this article, we connect these literatures and propose a model.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly |  

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