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J Nurs Educ. 2007 Jun;46(6):277-81.

Service-learning: an eye-opening experience that provokes emotion and challenges stereotypes.

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  • 1College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105, USA.


Descriptive phenomenology was used to explore the lived experience of nursing students in service-learning clinical placement working with families who are homeless. Fourteen students from two different service-learning courses involving a family homeless shelter participated in the interviews. Six constituent descriptions were identified from thematic analysis: eye-opening to realize the effects of homelessness on families; feeling intense emotions that are sometimes hard to express; realizing families who are homeless are both different from and similar to families who have housing; challenging and transforming assumptions, perceptions, and stereotypes; the importance of reflection; and discovering new and different aspects of the nursing role. This research contributes to existing knowledge about the relationships between service-learning and emotional learning, cross-cultural learning, transformational learning, and developing caring as a way of being, as well as provides valuable information about improving service-learning activities.

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