Social Work



Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Advisor not provided.


Decades of research have demonstrated that service-learning is an effective pedagogy. However, service-learning practices in higher education were primarily designed for undergraduate students. Leading scholars in community-engaged research have begun to acknowledge that distinct practices are needed for graduate-level service-learning. This banded dissertation begins to fill this gap by infusing Self-Determination Theory (SDT) with service-learning pedagogy to meet graduate students’ needs and enhance their self-efficacy. The first product is a conceptual manuscript that explores the potential relationship between SDT and curricular service-learning on the graduate level. Initial findings suggest that infusing SDT allows students the freedom to follow their interests which increases satisfaction. The analyses culminate in a new cross-disciplinary framework for graduate-level curriculum design and evaluation — the Self-Determined Service-Learning (SDSL) framework. The second product is a mixed methods study that explores graduate students’ mezzo and macro practice efficacy in an integrative capstone course. The SDSL framework was applied throughout the pedagogy (intervention) and research methods. Triangulated findings indicate that students had a statistically significantly change in their self-efficacy. Furthermore, mixed methods results provide insights into how and why self-efficacy was enhanced and offer a strong indication that graduate students will pursue macro practice in the future. The research supports the use of SDSL pedagogy in graduate capstone courses to enhance practice efficacy. The third product is a conference presentation that describes dissatisfaction in a capstone course and how the use of SDSL pedagogy changed student attitudes. The purpose of this presentation is to equip educators with promising service-learning practices for working with graduate students. The SDSL framework, corresponding research, and practice tools outlined in this dissertation further the scholarship of teaching and learning by providing direction for community-engaged educators and researchers that want to meet the diverse needs of graduate students and enhance their self-efficacy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.