College Students’ Perceptions on Effects of Volunteering with Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Jerri J. Kropp, Brent D. Wolfe

Abstract


The purpose of the current study was to address the research question, “Does direct contact with individuals with developmental disabilities positively alter college student attitudes toward people with developmental disabilities?” Subjects were undergraduate students from various majors who participated in an alternative spring break trip working with adults with disabilities. A mixed-methods study was used. Two instruments were administered before and after the volunteer experience: (a) Demographic and Open-Ended Questionnaire and (b) Multidimensional Attitude Scale Toward Persons With Disabilities (MAS). During the week, research participants kept daily journals where they reflected on their experiences as camp counselors and activity facilitators. Results were consistent with previous research that found significant changes in students’ self-perceptions, perception of others, and increased appreciation for social issues (Mann & DeAngelo, 2016). Further, results led to the identification of three distinct themes: transformation, enlightenment, and adjourning.


Keywords


volunteering; alternative spring break; disability

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