Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Department

Education

First Advisor

David Brell

Abstract

The future of education is often framed in terms of bringing education into the second half of the 21st century. Technology and along with it, faster and better ways to bring content to our students are important topics for discussion; but how our students treat each other and other members of their community is equally, if not more, important.

This study takes a look at how we may be able to encourage and foster compassion among our students. I wanted to know how compassionate thoughts and feelings develop following a service-learning experience focused on compassionate behavior. In this qualitative study, I interviewed a small group of students one year following a service-learning experience. I had initially interviewed them for a pilot study immediately after the service-learning experience. I wanted to hear how participants described their feelings of compassion and I wanted to know if the feelings they had immediately after the service-learning experience persisted for a year after that experience.

I conducted interviews with each of the 7 participants and also conducted a focus group session with the participants. The findings shed some insight into how compassion develops in young people. It also showed that in this small study the participants were inspired to feel compassion when they had to act compassionately as part of the service-learning program. There were mixed results as to the durability of those feelings one year later. A constructivist grounded theory for the development of compassion is proposed and a model suggested for how compassion develops and is motivated through the influences of Community and Experience.

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