Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kelly S. Hall


Public safety is put at risk when police officers do not positively engage with community members. Though police officers learn how to deescalate volatile situations in police training, some officers still rely on use of force (UOF) and are not fully incorporating positive engagement to deescalate volatile situations. Service-learning provides one way to learn positive modes of engagement. The problem addressed in this project study was that service learning has not been adopted as a widespread teaching practice in criminal justice professional development in a Southeastern local setting. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences, observations, conceptualizations, and experimentations of service learning in college criminal justice courses among rookie police officers. Kolb’s experiential learning theory was used conceptually frame the purpose and the study’s research question about the experiences, observations, conceptualizations, and experimentations of service-learning in college criminal justice courses. A basic qualitative design was the method of study. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 8 purposefully selected rookie police officers. Emergent themes were identified through open and axial coding. Findings revealed that rookie police officers with prior service-learning experiences continued to engage with youth and community organizations and develop altruistic behaviors after their college service-learning experiences. A 12-week curriculum plan was created to embed service-learning in field officer training. Implementing the curriculum may better prepare officers to positively engage with community members rather than using force when responding to volatile situations. A reduction in the UOF by police officers would result in positive social change.