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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Previous research has documented many positive effects of community service on student learning. Although a few studies have discovered that community service increases student’s cultural awareness, little research has addressed concrete changes in students’ conceptualization of diversity. The current study investigates how community service participation changes the complexity of students’ attitudes toward and perceptions of diversity. One hundred and six students participated in community service as a requirement for classes in Small Group Communication. Both quantitative and qualitative analysis of pre and post-community service surveys revealed that (1) community service significantly increased students’ level of comfort in interacting with populations different from their own, and (2) community service facilitated a shift of students’ conceptualization of diversity from simple categorical divisions to both similarity and difference as dynamic principles of identity.

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