Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary McCullough

Second Advisor

Kevin Baxter

Third Advisor

Lauren Casella


This qualitative case study examined early adolescent students’ perceptions of their service-learning program experiences at one Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (ADLA). The purpose of the study was: (a) to understand how the powerful tradition of the Church related to doing works of social justice and outreach was experienced by students in one ADLA Catholic elementary school in the form of experiential service learning, and (b) to explore whether associations exist between the students’ perceptions of their Catholic identities and their service-learning experiences. This study gathered research from student voice and work samples and utilized Carver’s (1997) agency, belonging, and competence (ABC) framework.

The findings indicated that study participants experienced feelings of satisfaction, connectedness, and optimism while participating in their service-learning program. The study findings may be of interest to Catholic elementary school leaders faced with increasing levels of student disengagement and/or declining enrollment, both of which may benefit from strengthening their students’ understanding of their Catholic identity and developing their sense of agency, belonging, and competence through experiential service-learning programs.