Date of Award

December 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Marie Sandy

Committee Members

Aaron Schutz, Rajiswari Swaminathan, Raquel Farmer-Hinton, Erin Parcell


Action Research, Critical Service-Learning, Dewey, High Impact Practices, Internship, Service-Learning


This dissertation explores a community-based internship (CBI) program, a hybridization of internship and service-learning practices. CBIs are becoming more common in higher education, but literature on the practice of integrating internships and service-learning is scarce. The purpose of this study is to develop an understanding of a CBI through an investigation of student, community partner, and university staff experiences and perceived outcomes of the program. Using participatory action research approaches and a thematic analysis of interviews and student course work, this qualitative study occurred in two phases and included 31 participants. The analysis employs frames of private vs public in higher education, Deweyan developmental democracy, and critical service-learning to organize the findings within six themes.The CBI included outcomes related to both internships and service-learning. Related to outcomes associated with internships, students experienced opportunities for professional and personal development, community partners experienced increased capacity for their work through the work of students as well as the new perspectives they may bring, and stakeholders described the CBI as a means for the university to fulfill its missions of preparing students for professional and civic life through a single program. Related to outcomes associated with service-learning, some CBI students demonstrated an understanding of how their work is connected to communities and broader society, a desire to make social change, and a deepened sense of community through their work. Some students who identified with backgrounds that are typically considered marginalized because of race or poverty, described feelings of responsibility for change and confronting barriers to change, while students who identified as privileged and white were more likely to describe a recognition of their privilege and wanting to use their privilege to help. Other public outcomes, such as impacts to the common good, were not commonly described by stakeholders. The findings of this study demonstrate the hybridization of internships and service-learning may produce outcomes associated with both, but there is a potential for goals of individual or organizational self-interest to overshadow goals related to the broader common good. Frameworks and structures borrowed from service-learning should be centered in CBIs to conserve public outcomes.