“I Felt We Were Actually Learning Things, Then Applying Them”

Students’ Perceptions of a Service-Learning Course


  • Christina Gipson Georgia Southern University
  • Jessica Mutchler Georgia Southern University
  • Arshpreet Kaur Mallhi Georgia Southern University
  • Amanda Lambert Georgia Southern University




mindfulness and fitness intervention, student engagement, service learning


Academic journals continue to produce articles that highlight record levels of student disengagement and lack of motivation. Faculty have been encouraged to use high impact, active learning strategies to increase student engagement and success (Patrick et al., 2016). One technique, service learning, allows students to become active learners through applying learned skills and theory from the classroom to community settings (Connolly, et al., 2017). The purpose of this study was to highlight students’ perceptions and experiences through three semester-long service-learning courses where students provided a fitness and mindfulness program to local teachers to help them address stressors. Undergraduate sports management students enrolled in a service-learning course for sport development were tasked with planning, organizing, implementing, and evaluating three 9-week long programs. Students were given increased responsibility and control over the semester which resulted in real-world experiences.  The students gave their perceptions and experiences in an end of semester paper.  Three independent coders reviewed the papers using thematic analysis. Emergent themes were consistent with the service-learning literature suggesting increased engagement, sense of purpose, and applying knowledge. The service-learning course proved to have a positive impact on the sport management students and produced high levels of engagement. Sport management faculty could implement service-learning courses to increase student engagement and opportunities to apply theories, skills, and knowledge in real-world settings. Sport management courses should further explore using high impact, active learning environments to increase student engagement and enhance student learning outcomes.

Author Biographies

Christina Gipson, Georgia Southern University

Christina Gipson, PhD, is an associate professor of sport management in the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University. Her primary line of research focuses on ways in which CrossFit impacts girls and women, using health and fitness in sport for development settings, and strategies and techniques to increase student engagement.

Jessica Mutchler, Georgia Southern University

Jessica Mutchler, PhD, ATC, is an associate professor of athletic training in the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University. Her research interests include lower extremity biomechanics and psychosocial aspects of performance, crisis management and mindfulness strategies, and student engagement.

Arshpreet Kaur Mallhi, Georgia Southern University

Arshpreet Kaur Mallhi, MPH, is a DrPH candidate in epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Environmental Health Sciences at Georgia Southern University. Her research focuses on chronic diseases including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health.

Amanda Lambert, Georgia Southern University

Amanda Lambert is a master’s student in dietetics in the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University. Her research interests include gastrointestinal diseases, the gut microbiome, and nutritional choices.


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