Service-Learning Exchange in Developed Cities: Dissonances and Civic Outcomes

Rina Marie Favis Camus, Hiu Yu Lam, Grace Ngai, Chi Fai Stephen Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: The context of learning, which includes the host country, is an important variable of service-learning. Since international service-learning programs often take place in developing countries, studies about their impact and outcomes commonly draw from experiences in developing countries. Purpose: We investigate service-learning experience in developed, urban settings focusing on dissonances and civic outcomes, key areas of service-learning pedagogy. Methodology/Approach: This an instrumental case study based on a small group sample of 12 Asian student participants of a service-learning exchange to partner universities in the USA. Findings/Conclusions: Findings suggest that developed cities can be fertile grounds for impactful dissonances and civic learning. “First-world expectations” increased or intensified dissonances students experienced. Confronting urban poverty and other social issues in cities similar to their own led students to see domestic problems with fresh eyes. Implications: Service-learning exchange in developed cities can facilitate understanding social problems particularly in the way these occur in developed countries and promises transferability of learning. However, students need prompting to connect experiences overseas to home contexts and draw practical consequences. Faculty or staff assistance is necessary to help students constructively cope with powerful dissonances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalJournal of Experiential Education
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021


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