Psychology Faculty Publications

Title

Religious Impact of a Poverty Immersion Experience on College Students

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-4-2014

Journal Title

Christian Higher Education

Volume

13

Issue

2

First Page

130

Last Page

144

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15363759.2014.872494

Abstract

An increasing number of universities have initiated activities and assignments to foster empathic and altruistic behavior in students. This study is a report of an outcomes assessment of a poverty immersion experience in a Christian urban ministries course. Following Firmin's (2006) protocol, we used a qualitative methodology that included three waves of interviews with 23 undergraduate students. Analyses of the data suggested that students underwent both affective and behavioral changes as a result of their experience. Affectively, students reported deepening their appreciation for the grace of God in their lives and changed perceptions of homeless people as children of God deserving of dignity and for whom they should care and provide assistance. Behaviorally, students reported the intent to teach other Christians about the spiritual lessons learned, to make urban ministries a long-term part of their individual ministries to others, and to make a tangible difference in the lives of people less fortunate than themselves. The poverty immersion experience utilized by this particular professor seems to have helped students have a deeper experience than they would have had with a more traditional service-learning model.

Keywords

Poverty, poverty immersion, religious impact, college students

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