The role of international service-learning in facilitating undergraduate students’ self-exploration

Min YANG, Lillian Yun Yung LUK, Beverley Joyce WEBSTER, Albert Wai-lap CHAU, Carol Hok Ka MA

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This article examines the role of international service-learning (ISL) in facilitating undergraduates’ exploration of their conceptions of self (i.e., self-exploration). Conception of self refers to the use of values to define one’s role in a social/cultural group or organization and in society, and to determine current actions and future commitments. ISL is intentionally structured activities involving students in social services in overseas settings. Existing research underscores the importance of inducting students to other-oriented (showing care and empathy for others) values in facilitating their self-exploration through ISL. Interviews with 48 students in Hong Kong who participated in ISL revealed qualitative differences in students’ conceptions of self related to moral, cultural, and leadership values. The findings highlight the need to guide students to critically self-reflect on their values and actions, and build reciprocal relationships with others. Implications for international educators and service-learning practitioners to support students’ self-exploration in ISL are proposed. Copyright © 2016 European Association for International Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-436
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Issue number5
Early online dateAug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


Yang, M., Luk, L. Y. Y., Webster, B. J., Chau, A. W.-l., & Ma, C. H. K. (2016). The role of international service-learning in facilitating undergraduate students’ self-exploration. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(5), 416-436.


  • Cross-border delivery of education
  • Globalization and international higher education
  • Internationalization of higher education
  • Internationalization of the curriculum
  • Mobility of students and academic staff


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