This study provides a thematic analysis of student transformative experience regarding personal and social change in a service learning (SL) course wherein students volunteer in embedded inner-city contexts. Several transformative themes emerged through interpretive analysis of student journals. Especially important to this investigation, we discovered “negative” themes that reflect and may be essential to student transformative experiences. These include task-related negativity, emotional response related to difficult experience, emotional response related to uncertainty, disruptive worldview, and outside pressures/restraint not program related. Positive transformative themes include personal satisfaction, personal development, relationship development, future hope, and worldview consolidation. Pedagogical implications for a transformative perspective of student experience in SL courses are discussed, as well as pedagogical applications for courses designed to generate transformation of self and community.
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