How Participation Affects University Students’ Perspectives Toward Mandatory Service-Learning

Stephen C.F. Chan, Grace Ngai, Cindy H.Y. Lam, Kam Por Kwan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Educators have divided and often strongly held views on whether service-learning should be required of all students. However, studies examining students’ view on mandatory service-learning are limited in the literature. Purpose: This article contrasts and examines students’ views toward a service-learning requirement at a Hong Kong university before and after attending a mandatory service-learning course, and any resulting changes. Methodology/Approach: This is a retrospective qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Participants were 49 students who completed a service-learning course in the 2013–2014 academic year. They were selected according to the nature of their performance in their completed course. Findings/Conclusions: Results show that students’ perspectives toward service-learning are not static but rather change dramatically as a result of their experiences. Most students, even those who recalled being initially negative or resigned, reported positive views toward service-learning after completing the course. Implications: Students’ initial resistance alone is not a reason for making service-learning optional. Some students have a negative view due to a lack of information or misinformation. Making it compulsory gives these students an opportunity to decide for themselves based on true experience, which, if implemented effectively, has the potential of nurturing initially hostile or inert students into more civic-minded citizens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-151
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experiential Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • higher education
  • learning outcomes
  • service requirement
  • service-learning
  • student perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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