Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of Higher Education (2017); doi:10.1080/00221546.2017.1313086


Copyright © 2017 The Ohio State University. Published by Routledge—Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


The purpose of this study was to explore how students integrate learning from one particular experience, participating in a service learning-based alternative break (AB), with other postsecondary experiences and to identify the conditions that may facilitate integrative learning. Using qualitative case studies combined with narrative analysis, we analyzed data from interviews with 38 AB participants. Consistent with Barber’s (2012) theory of integrative learning, we found evidence that students were engaging in the processes of connecting, applying, and synthesizing learning from their ABs. We identified the importance of interacting with diverse others in facilitating integrative learning, but also noted barriers to integration such as difficulty connecting information across disparate contexts. Through exploring integrative learning in one particular context, the findings from this study can inform our understanding of how students are engaging in integration and improve our understanding of how educators can best support integration in higher education.