Critical reflection seals the DEAL: an experiment examining the effects of different reflection methods on civic-related outcomes of service-learning

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology, Clinical


Department of Psychology


Advisor: Roger N. Reeb


The present study examined student outcomes across a semester of service-learning participation. The study examined two hypotheses: (1) students engaged in service-learning will have significant changes in community service self-efficacy (an in the related civic action construct) and in endorsement of myths and social stigma towards homelessness; and (2) the pre-to-post semester improvements will be greater for students engaged in structured DEAL Model reflection compared to students engaged in the less structured routine reflection. Undergraduate students (N= 30) were randomly assigned to either the DEAL Model reflection or routine reflection condition. Over the course of the semester, students were required to complete four reflections exercises, which differed in structure based on condition. While there were a number of nonsignificant findings, there was partial support for the hypotheses. Specifically, students' endorsement of myths and social stigma significantly decreased from pre-to-post assessment. Further results indicated that the DEAL Model reflection group had a significant decrease in endorsement of myths and social stigma, while the routine reflection did not have this significant decrease. Additionally, the DEAL Model reflection group had a significant increase in civic action from pre-to-post semester assessment. High pre-semester scores on community service self-efficacy measures may have created a ceiling effect that precluded an adequate assessment of pre- to post-semester changes in that construct. However, a retrospective measure of this same construct indicated that students strongly endorsed the notion that participation in the service-learning project substantially contributed to their perceptions of strong community service self-efficacy. The results are interpreted within the context of past theory and research. Recommendations for future research are provided, including future examination of qualitative data (i.e., written reflection assignments), which will be available for research purposes.


Service learning Psychological aspects, College students' writings Psychological aspects, College students Attitudes, Homelessness Public opinion, Psychology, Higher Education, DEAL Model Reflection, Community Service Self-Efficacy, Civic Action, service-learning, behavioral activation, self-efficacy, homelessness, experiment, critical reflection, service-learning outcomes, civic-minded graduate

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2015, author