Enhancing Academic, Personal, Social, Civic and Cultural Developmental Outcomes Among High School Youth: The Role of International Service Learning

Lara Levine, Pace University


There a large body of research that examines the benefits of International Service Learning (ISL) and Domestic Service learning (DSL). However, there is gap in understanding the impact that ISL can have on high school youth and furthermore, the comparison of domestic and international and service learning. This study assessed the role that an ISL program plays in enhancing developmental outcomes (academic, personal, social, civic, and cultural) for student participants. It also explored whether internal resources (community service self- efficacy), external resources (perceived social support), and program variables (perceived level of training and opportunities for reflection) alter the strength of the proposed outcomes. A group of students who went on an ISL trip (experimental group) was compared to a sample of students enrolled in an afterschool program and engaged in local community service (control group). The participants in the study were all high school students involved with BuildOn's afterschool program (a nonprofit agency that aims to empower high school youth through domestic and international community service). Students in the program can choose to engage in an ISL experience called Trek where they receive training and education prior to spending two weeks living in a rural community in a developing country building a school for the members of the community. Surveys were administered to the control and experimental groups at the start of the Trek process and again at the end. It was hypothesized that students who went on Trek would have greater gains in all developmental outcomes measured than those who did not go on Trek. Statistical analyses revealed that the group who did not go on Trek had a greater change in self-efficacy, civic action, intercultural competence, and community service self-efficacy than the Trek group. However, the Trek group started off with significantly higher scores in all outcomes to start. While social behavior did not change significantly more in either the Trek or Non-Trek group, it was found that those who started with higher levels of perceived social support were likely to have a greater change in social behavior than those with medium and low levels of social support. Furthermore, those who perceived the training and level of institutional support as high were more likely to have Beater gains intercultural competence. The hypotheses that the Trek group would show Beater gains in developmental outcomes than the Non-Trek group were not supported. The lack of change was likely a reflection of the lack of random assignment, the minimal room for growth among the Trek group, and the outcomes measured. These findings supported previous research that domestic services learning increases personal and civic outcomes. Furthermore, the current study shows that students who seek out ISL experiences are much higher in all developmental outcomes to start suggesting that alternative constructs should be measured to understand the true impact of ISL.

Subject Area

Psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Levine, Lara, "Enhancing Academic, Personal, Social, Civic and Cultural Developmental Outcomes Among High School Youth: The Role of International Service Learning" (2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10143748.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)