Cultivating wisdom through a service-learning experience.

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Cultivating wisdom through a service-learning experience.

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Recent research has indicated that the acquisition of knowledge alone is not sufficient to ensure the common good. As such, this study measured the effectiveness of a service-learning experience in cultivating various personal and interpersonal assets necessary for optimal human development; collectively defined as Wisdom. Wisdom was measured as a latent variable that is evidenced by cognitive, affective and reflective effect indicators (Ardelt, 2003). A quasi-experimental design was used to measure the difference in wisdom attributes for those involved in a service-learning program (n= 288) as compared to a similar control group (n= 321). Wisdom was measured before, after, and one-month following an intense service-learning tour. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to determine the comparative influence of Social Environment, Social Relationships, Openness to Experience, and Civic Attitude on Wisdom domains. Latent Growth Modeling (LGM) was used to determine the growth trajectories of wisdom over the course of five weeks, and to identify variables that influenced those trajectories. Finally, trip components were ranked by mean scores as to their perceived importance in facilitating growth in the three Wisdom domains.Results indicate that service-learning participants reported significant gains in Wisdom domains as a result of the experience, with overall Wisdom scores remaining significant one month after the trip. Control group participants reported declines in all measures, with the exception of Civic Attitude. The proposed SEM demonstrated a strong fit for the data, providing deeper insight into predictors of the development of Wisdom in early adulthood. Implications for the fields of education and recreation are discussed within the context of this study and previous relevant research.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2009. Major: Education-Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies. Advisor: Dr. Keith C. Russell. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 142 pages, appendices A-C.

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Bailey, Andrew. (2009). Cultivating wisdom through a service-learning experience.. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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