Identity Development and the Potential Impact of a Service Learning Experience: A Qualitative Inquiry

Date of Completion

January 2011


Psychology, Social|Health Sciences, Recreation|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




The purpose of the current study was to provide insight into the complex processes by which individuals acquire an understanding of the development of their own identity, of the identities of others, and the dynamics of the larger social world. This study profiled 4 middle class white males as they discussed their personal perceptions and lived experiences framed in the "Model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity" (MMDI) (Jones and McEwen, 2000). During the timeline of this study, all of participants were enrolled in an "Outreach and Sport" course that provided a structured opportunity for positive and sustained engagement with diverse social others, while at the same time facilitating academic rigors designed to stimulate critical examination of self, others and society. Using data gathered from a personal background survey and three in-depth individual interviews with each participant, the results of the study are focused on (a) how each participant understood the different components of his identity, (b) how each participant perceived himself in relation to others and to the larger social world, (c) what was perceived as the primary experiences and influences in this process, and (d) what impact did the participants' involvement in the "Outreach and Sport" course have on their perceptions of self, others and the larger social world.^