Service-Learning in an Undergraduate Abnormal Psychology Course: What Do Students Learn?

Christina Michaelson


In my Abnormal Psychology course students reported that their service-learning work at mental health related organizations in the community helped them connect course content to life experiences, increase their understanding of the impact of mental illness on people’s lives, and examine their attitudes about people with psychological disorders. They also developed increased empathy, greater understandings of cultural and racial differences, and more awareness of their personal strengths. They felt useful to others, that their service made a difference, and that they were more likely to volunteer in the future. These results are consistent with previous research that service-learners increase their understanding of course content and experience personal growth. The present study provides a more focused perspective on how Abnormal Psychology students are affected specifically by their experiential understanding of psychological disorders and reflection on their attitudes about mental illness.

Full Text:




Bringle, R. G., & Hatcher, J. A. (1995). A service-learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning, 2, 112-122.

Conway, J. M., Amel, E. L., & Gerwien, D. P. (2009). Teaching and learning in the social context: A meta-analysis of service learning’s effects on academic, personal, social, and citizenship outcomes. Teaching of Psychology, 36, 233-245.

Gelmon, S. B., Holland, B. A., Driscoll, A., Spring, A., & Kerrigan, S. (2001). Assessing service-learning and civic engagement: Principles and techniques. Rhode Island: Campus Compact.

Lundy, B. L. (2007). Service learning in life-span developmental psychology: Higher exam scores and increased empathy. Teaching of Psychology, 34, 23-27.

Kretchmar, M. D. (2001). Service Learning in a general psychology class: Description, preliminary evaluation, and recommendations. Teaching of Psychology, 28, 5-10.

Reeb, R. N, Sammon, J. A., & Isackson, N. L. (1999). Clinical application of the service-learning model in psychology: Evidence of educational and clinical benefits. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 18, 65-82.

Toncar, M. F., Reid, J. S., Burns, D. J., Anderson, C. E., & Nguyen, H. P. (2006). Uniform assessment of the benefits of service learning: The development, evaluation, and implementation of the SELEB Scale. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 14, 223-238.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add ‘’ domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', please check your 'spam' or 'junk' folder.