Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership


Williams, Frankie

Committee Member

Dunlap , Nancy

Committee Member

Flowers , Lamont

Committee Member

Igo , Brent


Although service-learning became a popular method for advancing civic engagement on college campuses in the 21st Century, it struggled with gaining academic legitimacy and the support necessary to become institutionalized. The primary research question for this study was: What factors characterize and distinguish the institutionalization of service-learning in higher education at two nationally recognized land-grant institutions in South Carolina? The secondary research questions for this study addressed how philosophy and mission of service-learning, faculty support for and involvement in service-learning, student support for and involvement in service-learning, community participation and partnerships, and institutional support for service-learning manifest in these institutions. The Institutionalization of Service-Learning in Higher Education Self-Assessment Rubric (Furco, 2002) identifies five dimensions comprising the institutionalization of service-learning in institutions of higher education and was used as the conceptual framework for this study.
The researcher selected the collective case study design for this study to obtain a detailed description of the institutionalization of service-learning at Clemson University and South Carolina State University. Six types of data were collected in the study including interviews, documents, participant observation, archival records, audiovisual materials, and physical artifacts. The researcher analyzed data using Miles and Huberman's (1994) three-step process for analyzing data. A within-case analysis of each land-grant institution was conducted to highlight and describe the uniqueness of each institution. This was followed by a cross-case analysis to uncover the commonalities that characterize both institutions. The researcher identified emergent themes in both within-case and cross-case analysis to distinguish and characterize the institutionalization of service-learning at land-grant colleges in South Carolina.
The researcher drew nine conclusions based on the common emergent themes identified in cross-case analysis. These conclusions characterize the commonalities of the institutionalization of service-learning at land-grant colleges in South Carolina. The nine major conclusions for this study are:
1. Service-learning is interwoven across campus and represented in many divisions at land-grant institutions.
2. The mission of public service to the citizens of South Carolina serves as the foundation for service-learning at land-grant institutions.
3. Service-learning at land-grant institutions enhances the growth and development of students on many levels.
4. Land-grant institutions use service-learning as a means for graduating future citizens and community leaders.
5. Institutional support at land-grant institutions is intermittent and dependent on available resources and competing priorities.
6. Participation in service-learning promotes reciprocity between land-grant institutions and community partners.
7. Participation in service-learning at land-grant institutions develops and fosters an ethic of service and care.
8. Presidential commitment is an essential element for advancing service-learning at land-grant institutions.
9. Increasing awareness of the benefits of service-learning and the many opportunities on campus is a priority at land-grant institutions.
The researcher provided general recommendations for college presidents as well as for administrators, faculty, students, and community partners involved in service-learning at land-grant colleges. Recommendations for future research include a qualitative exploration of the role of leadership in advancing service-learning, the development of a civic engagement in higher education assessment tool, two distinct qualitative studies on the institutionalization of service-learning at 1862 land-grant institutions and 1890 land-grant institutions, and the development of a quantitative instrument based on the qualitative findings in this study.