Volunteering: Is it a Waste of Time or Best Experience Ever?

Authors: Meliha Atalay Noordegraaf*

Meliha Atalay Noordegraaf is a PhD freelance researcher in Izmir, Turkey. Her PhD and MS are in Sport Management.

*Corresponding Author:
Meliha Atalay Noordegraaf, PhD
Tepecik Mah. 1509. Sokak
Asiyan Sitesi 1/5
Seferihisar/Izmir, Turkey
(+90) 532 5510724

The purpose of this study was to examine the volunteering experiences of experienced and inexperienced volunteers who were physical education and sport students, during “recreational events”. In this study qualitative research design and action research approach (emancipating/enhancing/critical science mode) were used. This research was carried out with 41 university students (16 female, 25 male) who participated in “recreational events” as volunteers during the fall semester of 2015-2016. Research data was collected in two different ways. The first one was by semi-structured focus group interviews. The second one was by diaries which were kept by the volunteers. This research was conducted as two different “recreational events within the educational content”. According to the results of both experienced and inexperienced volunteers four main themes emerged. These themes were: 1. Definition of voluntarism, 2. Motivations, 3. Gains and 4. Continuity.

KEYWORDS: Volunteerism, volunteer, recreational education

Why and when do people contribute to the welfare of others? Why do so many people choose to help others by donating their money, time or manpower and many others do not? For so many people volunteering might be a waste of valuable time and for many others it might be the best experience ever…what makes the experience unforgettable?

First of all volunteering takes you away from your comfort zone and gives you an opportunity to meet new challenges, people with different life styles, and organizations with different perspectives and experiences. Thus this will enable approaching challenges also from different angles. According to the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation (http://www.unv.org). Wilson & Musick (1997) defined formal volunteering as an activity involving a person’s time and effort which is not compensated by regular payment or monetary reward, but is freely undertaken and produces goods and services for organizations, and by extension, for other individuals.

Every volunteer has his/her own personal reasons to be one. Chelladurai (2001) for example stated that a volunteer might join an event for several reasons: learning and growing, helping others, cultivating friendships, using present skills and learning new skills, gaining work experience, repaying a debt to society, and using leisure time more effectively. According to Geber (1991) altruism may be the most obvious reason behind volunteering, but there are many other motivational factors that have an explicit or implicit link to learning. For some, learning new skills for career advancement or exploring job options is an important motivator. There are many possible reasons for differences in the motivations of volunteers but also differences in volunteers themselves. Different people may be engaged in the same volunteer activity/event yet they can be pursuing different goals or participating in different volunteer activities/events for similar motivations (Cuskelly, Hoye & Auld, 2006).

A shared vision for volunteering is to remain a diverse and loosely defined activity in universities (Holdsworth & Brewis (2014). Lu-Luan (2001) stated in the study examining factors affecting volunteerism of physical education students for international sports events in Taiwan that opportunities for personal growth and experience, a sense of fulfilling obligations to society, and the desires for future benefits from the volunteer’s effort were among the most important motivators. Holdsworth (2010) however concludes that student volunteering is increasingly endorsed as a cure for a broad spectrum of social problems and issues. According to Brewis (2010) volunteering is assumed to assuage disputes between universities and local communities, to promote a positive image of the university locally, to enhance students’ employability, to provide students with fun and is stimulating experiences and opportunities to make friends as well as developing students’ sense of civic duty and responsibility. It can be strongly argued that service activity can indeed be a powerful pedagogical tool today, as many universities attempt to embed volunteering more closely into the curriculum and to promote student volunteering for employability and skills development. Even though the theories are criticized in some of the literature, one fact about learning does not change: learning and its reflections continue even after volunteering experience. Learning is a lifelong process and therefore it is important that learning by volunteering has a positive effect on the volunteer’s life. Sax et al. (1999) in their study address the question of whether the effects of volunteer service during the undergraduate years persist once students leave college. Data is drawn from 12,376 students attending 209 institutions who were followed up four and nine years after college entry. Results show that even when pre-college service participation is controlled, student participation in volunteer service during the undergraduate years is positively associated with a variety of cognitive and affective outcomes measured nine years after entering college.

One makes different links to and different choices with your previous experiences in different circumstances to face new challenges. If the experience is problematic, so is the possibility of its reflection. Therefore this research was based on the “by doing-experiencing” concept and focused on the motivations of the students who participated in various recreational events as a volunteer and also focused on what they have experienced.


Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine the volunteering experiences of experienced and inexperienced volunteers who were physical education and sport students, during “recreational events”. For this purpose the questions to be researched were as follows:
1. How do experienced and inexperienced students define volunteering?
2. What are the motivations of the experienced and inexperienced students to be a volunteer?
3. What are the gains of being a volunteer for experienced and inexperienced students?

Research Design

In this study a qualitative research design and action research approach (emancipating/enhancing/critical science mode) was used. According to O’Brien (2003), action research is to identify a problem by a group of people, to do something to solve the problem, to see how successful the efforts are, if the results are not satisfying to try to do it again, in short learning by doing and experiencing (Cited by: Aksoy, 2003). This research was based on the “by doing-experiencing” concept and focused on the motivations of the students who participated in various recreational events as a volunteer and also focused on what they have experienced. Therefore, this study was designed as an action research approach (emancipating/enhancing/critical science mode) which helps volunteer students to gain new knowledge, skills and experience and to help developing a critical point of view to their own practices through the “recreational events” (Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2013).


This research was carried out with a total of 41 university students who participated in “recreational events” as volunteers during the fall semester of 2015-2016. All of the participants were undergraduate students of The School of Physical Education and Sports in Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University (Turkey). Students were 16 female, 25 male (17 inexperienced-24 experienced).

“Purposeful sampling” method and “Criterion sampling” strategy were used in this study. The participants were selected with identified criteria and their participation was determined as “on voluntary basis”. Furthermore the volunteers were selected among experienced and inexperienced students. Seventeen volunteers were first grade students and they never had any volunteering experience, and twenty-four students were second/third/fourth grade students who had at least two volunteering experiences. Participants were referred to as “volunteers” in the entire text.

Data Collection

Research data was collected in two different ways. The first one was by semi-structured focus group interviews. The second one was by diaries which were kept by the volunteers that expressed their thoughts and feelings. At the end of a three days action (implementation) process, a total of four focus group interviews were conducted with the volunteers. From a total of 41 students participating in the implementation, 30 students (17 inexperienced-13 experienced) participated in the four focus group interviews and kept a diary and 17 students (10 experienced-7 inexperienced) only kept a diary. The number of volunteers in data collection, duration of focus group interviews and the diaries of the volunteers participating in the implementation are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

In focus group discussions the number of questions was limited in accordance with the nature of the method. In focus groups the same semi-structured questions were asked both to experienced and inexperienced students. The questions asked to the volunteers in accordance with the purpose of the study were: how do they define volunteerism, why did they become a volunteer in the events within the scope of the research, and which were gains which they achieved by volunteering. The data was recorded during the interviews using a voice recorder and also the researcher kept notes together with the audio recording. The other data collection method was by diaries kept by the volunteers. All volunteers kept diaries that expressed their thoughts and feelings about being a volunteer. Seventeen volunteers kept diaries only.

Action (Implementation) Plan

This research was conducted during two different “recreational events within the educational content” by the researcher and the volunteers. The active participation of the volunteers by working and taking responsibility in these two action plans (implementations) was provided as coordinated by the researcher. It is important in action researches that the action to be taken is planned. Whilst planning pre-action, phases must be explained clearly during action and post-action. Table 2. shows the action (implementation) plan of the two event processes in detail.

Table 2

In this action research it was provided that volunteers took active responsibility and fulfilled their tasks. These responsibilities and the tasks were: pre-action preparations, implementations during the action and tasks after the implementation. According to the Action Plan (Table 2.) the researcher planned the tasks and the responsibilities of the volunteers in detail and implemented these together with them as a participant observer. Elliot (1991) stated that activity researches greatly contributed to the development of practices in the field of education through research by bringing together program development and evaluation, research and thinking (Cited by: Yıldırım and Şimşek, 2013).

Data Analysis

The data analysis was conducted through NVIVO 10 qualitative analysis software program. The focus group interviews and the decoded diaries and the data obtained were transferred into NVIVO 10 software. The standard content analysis method was used during the NVIVO 10 analyses for coding. During the coding overlapping statements were grouped as themes. All processes during analysing the data were carried out independently by two experts who are experienced in qualitative researches. The study was supported by some quotes from the views of volunteers. In these quotes experienced volunteers were coded as (E1, E2…), and inexperienced volunteers as (IE, IE2…).

Validity and Reliability

Lincoln and Guba (1998) suggest to use four aspects to ensure reliability and validity in qualitative researches: credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability (cited by: Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2013). In this study for credibility (internal validity) triangulation and expert review strategy were used. Collecting data through focus group interviews and the diaries of volunteers provided triangulation (Tobin & Begley, 2004; Briller, Meert, Schim & Thurston, 2008; Bekhet & Zauszniewski, 2012) and working with experts on qualitative research fulfilled the condition of expert review. In order to strengthen transferability (external validity), “Purposeful Sampling” method and “Criterion Sampling” strategy were used in this study (cited by: Yıldırım & Şimşek, 2013).

For dependability (internal validity) of the study Miles and Huberman’s (1994) formula was applied. In addition, the codes and the themes independently created by two expert researchers were compared. As a result, the agreement for the total statements of experienced volunteers resulted in 23 and disagreement resulted in 9, the agreement for the total statements of inexperienced volunteers resulted in 17 and disagreement resulted in 6. According to Miles and Huberman’s (1994) formula the correspondence percentage of experienced volunteers was calculated as 72%, and for inexperienced volunteers as 74%. Since the correspondence percentage is more than 70%, the research is accepted as reliable.

For the conformability of the research (external validity), all of the data collection tools, raw data, coding during data analysis were preserved by the researcher to be able to re-analyse when this would be needed.

Results obtained from the research findings are presented separately for the experienced and inexperienced volunteers. In the graphics, repetition in answers of experienced and inexperienced volunteers is shown with the respective numbers (e.g. f=5). In this way, it was much easier to classify the opinion codes in numbers.

Results of Experienced Students

Graphic 1. indicates the themes and the codes related to voluntarism which emerged from the statements by the experienced volunteers after the recreational events (first and second implementations). Research findings were grouped under four general themes. These were: definition of voluntarism, motivations, gains and continuity.

Graphic 1


The experienced students defined voluntarism as work without expectation (f=1). E9 defined the voluntary work without expectation as: “we are much more productive as volunteers without expectation, you cannot be a volunteer when you expect a profit, if it is a job for money, and anyone could come here but would not be so productive”.


The motivations which the experienced volunteers participating in the events expressed most often were “personal development” (f=7) and “career development” (f=7). One of the example expressions for personal development was: “I am here because I am aware of the benefits from previous events” (E11) and an example for career development was: “We are studying sport management and we will organize events by ourselves and these small events will guide us for our future experiences. That is way I volunteer” (E23). Some of the experienced volunteers specified that they accepted to be a volunteer for having fun (f=5). “I am here and volunteer for fun and will spend pleasant times with people I like” (E24). Socialization (f=4) was determined as another motivation factor. One of the experienced volunteers expressed his/her feelings about the motive: helping others (f=3) as “I personally like helping other people and when I was invited as a volunteer, I thought: why wouldn’t I do this” (E21).

To communicate (f=2) with other people, team work (f=2), and having responsibility (f=2) were the other motivation factors for the experienced volunteers. However the least expressed motivations among the experienced volunteers were developing self confidence (f=1) and changing perspective (f=1).


Results indicated that experienced volunteers achieved a lot of gains from voluntarism. The most repeated gains were: having fun (f=17) and feeling happy (f=16). Research findings emphasized that while having fun in general was gained after the recreational activities in the first event, feeling happy was gained in the second event, working with mentally disabled persons. For example E9 stated that after the first event, “we participated in both activities, we gained experience, we had fun and a very good time” and for the second event: “I set up the game, I made them play, and when I saw them happy, I was even happier”.

Anxiety (f=15) came forward about the feelings of being a volunteer for the experienced volunteers. Anxiety occurred mainly while working in the second event with the group of mentally disabled persons with whom they never met or worked before. Not knowing what to expect created anxiety for the volunteers despite being experienced. As the event was for a special group like “mentally disabled individuals” the feeling of anxiety was revealed eventually. These feelings were mentioned as: “I would meet with disabled persons for the first time. I had no idea about their reactions or responses to the events. This was worrying me a lot” (E12). One of the gains of volunteering was socialization (f=9) which was revealed during the first event (team work games) in which the experienced volunteers participated. Leadership (f=6), was another gain volunteers achieved. Some of the volunteers expressed their thoughts as: “It was very contributing in terms of leadership. I think, I have new experiences in leadership” (E1) and “Definitely it was a fulfilled duty for my department (sport management), I have achieved new gains and experiences in management and leadership” (E9). Another emotion for experienced volunteers appeared to be “excitement” (f=4). It is similar to anxiety, excitement also occurred before the second event working with disabled persons.

Self-confidence (f=3) and feeling responsible (f=3), work experience (f=2), personal development (f=2), interaction (f=2), group dynamic (f=1), developing imagination (f=1), gaining different perspective (f=1) and feeling proud (f=1) were the other gains expressed by experienced volunteers.


Continuity (f=5) was the fourth theme that experienced volunteers defined in terms of willingness of being a volunteer again. Continuity was a theme which was revealed after the second event which included educational games for mentally disabled individuals. One of the statements about this theme was: “I want to give free courses to disabled persons when I start to work officially, I am extremely pleased to touch their hearts a little and to see them so happy” (E5).

Results of Inexperienced Students

Graphic 2. indicates the themes and the codes related to voluntarism which emerged from the statements by the inexperienced volunteers after the recreational events (first and second implementations). Research findings were grouped under four general themes. These were: definition of voluntarism, motivations, gains and continuity.

Graphic 2


The inexperienced students defined voluntarism in four different ways: work without exchange (f=2), work with pleasure (f=2), work willingly (f=2) and work without profit (f=1).


The inexperienced volunteers stated that the most important reason for them to join the event was trust in organizer (f=8). In this regard IE6 expressed that “I am here because I trust you (organizer), I do not know if I would have been a volunteer for other organizers but I trust you”.

Results showed that one of the main reasons for volunteering was curiosity (f=5). Some of the inexperienced volunteers were volunteering just for helping (f=3). IE16 for instance stated that “it is very nice to be able to communicate and to help other people, I mean I am here to help”. Job expectation (f=2), personal development (f=2), meeting with new people (f=2), and having experience (f=2) were the other motivations mentioned among the inexperienced volunteers. IE15 who focused on developing himself said that he volunteered because he thought “he would receive a personal gain by volunteering”. Recommendation (f=1) was the least mentioned motive among the inexperienced volunteers.


Results indicated that having fun (f=6), career opportunities (f=6), and socialization (f=6) took the first places among gains achieved by volunteering. Some of the example statements were: “I like very much being in charge like this” and “I enjoyed it! It was quite fun”. One of the inexperienced volunteers (IE1) emphasized about career opportunities that “It is not something that helps university life; it is an event that contains the knowledge we need in the future. That’s why this is a great advantage for me”. It is stated by inexperienced volunteers that volunteering helped making new friends and therefore to socialize. Some of the example statements were: “it takes you out of your routine and helps meeting new people and socialize” (IE3), “We met new people, I still talk to those in my group when I see them at the cafeteria, so I made new friends during this event” (IE10).

IE4, IE11, IE15 and IE16 used similar words to express their gains of feeling happy (f=5). One of the most important gains of volunteering for the inexperienced volunteers was self-confidence (f=5). Anxiety (f=5) was standing out for the inexperienced volunteers as well. Statements related to these feelings were like “I was wondering, I was not be able to guess what was going to happen. Frankly I was nervous when we went to the event” (IE5). Another gain inexperienced volunteers achieved was prejudice (f=4). The inexperienced volunteers thinking at first that they would get bored and approached the work they would do as prejudicial. IE10 expressed his thoughts about the gain group dynamic (f=4) as “Because there was a goal and everybody in the group supported each other and tried to do something for the goal. Most important of all we fulfilled the responsibility we took together with all friends in the group”. Another gain Leadership (f=4) was mentioned by IE7, IE12, IE14 and IE17 as “they learned and felt leadership”.

For To communicate (f=3) and personal development (f=1) IE16 stated that “I was unable to communicate or to talk to people so quickly before, but now I take much more initiative”. Finally it was mentioned by IE1 as “It was a great advantage for me to be here. It played a great role in my personal development. Events like this are a great chance for me”.


The inexperienced volunteers identified the willingness of volunteering again with the theme continuity (f=5). Volunteers emphasized that “they could be a volunteer again if a similar event would take place”. Some of the statements were: “I would love to come again for such events because the atmosphere was very nice” (IE7) and “If there would be another event like this I am sure I would be running to it because nothing went wrong and I was not bored at all!” (IE1).

Volunteers explained what voluntarism means for them. Experienced volunteers defined voluntarism as work without expectation. Inexperienced volunteers on the other hand defined voluntarism as work without exchange, work with pleasure, work willingly and work without profit.

Voluntarism and volunteering varies from person to person. Cuskelly, Hoye & Auld (2006) stated that defining volunteering, something that on the surface appears to be relatively simple, is actually quite complex. Although the word “volunteer” may seem to have a commonly shared meaning, there is no universal consensus about the meaning of the term. According to Stebbins (2009) if the definition of voluntarism and volunteering would be only economical (material) then it fails to explain why people engage in unpaid activity. Why do people volunteer or, for that matter, do anything, when they gain no material reward? The results showed that both experienced and inexperienced volunteers in the study also did not make a comprehensive definition of volunteering and voluntarism but only within the concept of materialistic rewards or expectations. Strigas (2003) discovered that student volunteers had more professional-based motivations than older volunteers (cited by: Wysong & Maellaro 2013). That might be the reason that they define voluntarism only within the materialistic concept. Similarly, Barron and Rihova (2011) stated that the students seem to “move away from altruistic motivations such as volunteering as a means of helping others, to a more utilitarian motivation, such as using volunteering as a means of helping oneself”.

The second theme was motivations. In our study, the experienced volunteers stated that the motivations to be a volunteer in the events were more for personal development and career development. However, personal development, having experience and job expectation were not the primary motivations of the inexperienced volunteers. Auld (2004) found in his study that the student volunteers particularly focused on the perceived outcomes such as gaining employment related skills. The difference between experienced and inexperienced volunteers career motivations in this study might be caused by the fact that experienced volunteers are closer to the graduation, they could be more career-oriented than the inexperienced volunteers who were only in their first year of undergraduate education.

The other important motive for experienced volunteers was having fun. They stated that if they think the volunteer work to be fun they are willing to be a volunteer. Cuskelly, Hoye & Auld (2006) claim that sport volunteer satisfaction seems to be largely beyond the control of voluntary sport organizations and more likely to be derived from task enjoyment and interrelationships between volunteers than it is from formal recognition systems or formalized human resources management practices.

The inexperienced volunteers stated that the most important reason for them to join the event was trust in the organizer. These statements suggest that the operation of the volunteer event and their professionalism and expertise are the important factors to be a volunteer. If the organizations or the institutions develop a friendly environment to welcome the volunteers and to make them feel part of the event, this might help individuals to becoming a volunteer. Auld (2004) also stated that volunteers focused on the nature of the work and quality of supervision. Similarly Allen & Shaw (2009) emphasized that the volunteers in their research felt that specific training prior to the start of the event would have been useful and would have helped them to feel more confident about what they were doing.

Socialization, (communicating with others and meeting with people) was identified as another motivation of the volunteers. Many volunteers in various events stated that being part of a team and having an opportunity to meet new people with similar interests and background, feeling a connection with the people, socializing and ‘having fun’ together are all part of the experience and important factors when applying for volunteer roles in the events and festivals sector (Barron & Rihova, 2011; Allen & Shaw, 2009; Gülay, Mirzeoğlu & Çelebi, 2010).

Both experienced and inexperienced volunteers found helping others an important motive. They stated that they like helping in general if needed. Similarly, volunteers in Primavera’s (1999) study said that “they came to appreciate two other important aspects of volunteerism. That is, they learned that what may seem like a small gesture on the part of one person can have a significant impact on the lives of others and they found that the benefits to the ‘‘giver’’ often exceed those of the ‘‘receiver”.

Team work and having responsibility were among the factors that motivate experienced volunteers. Team work helps volunteers operate better if they interact with each other. Volunteers are important as individuals but if they are not capable of working in harmony with other volunteers as a team, their performance would not reach the optimum level. Some of the literature suggests that team working and interacting with other volunteers, staff and the audience can create a sense of something exciting and this excitement contributes to creating a team spirit and teams are critical for volunteer performance and satisfaction in sport and recreation organisations. Working in teams can facilitate motivation as a result of a number of factors. Teams can make people more productive, facilitate social interaction and support and, if the team is self-managed, encourage feelings of responsibility and autonomy (Auld & Cuskelly, 2000; Barron & Rihova, 2011).

According to the results the third theme was gains. It was observed that both the experienced and inexperienced students have achieved many gains related to their volunteering. Most repeatedly mentioned gains were having fun and feeling happy. Results showed that while having fun in general was gained after the recreational activities in the first application, feeling happy was gained in the second application working with mentally disabled persons. Kim et al. (2010) emphasized that volunteers in special-needs events had higher motivations. It can be argued that the variety of the events (ethnic/different gender identities/mentally or physically disabled/youth/old, etc.) can also help volunteers to achieve various gains.

Anxiety was one of the strongest feelings that experienced volunteers gained. Inexperienced volunteers also mentioned anxiety to a certain level. This level of anxiety emerged like feeling happy before the second event working with disabled persons. If volunteering is with the special and challenge group, volunteers should be trained specifically for the target group to reduce negative feelings or prejudice. Kim et al. (2010) stated that due to their significant reliance on volunteers in operating the sport programmes, organizations serving children with special needs tend to have a well-established system to recruit, train and retain volunteers. Cuskelly (1995) similarly argued that a well-designed orientation session reduces stress on new volunteers, makes them feel welcome and may reduce the likelihood of turnover.

Socialization was one of the important gains occurring after both groups’ experiences. Community engagement requires university students to volunteer as opportunities arise-regardless of these being university events, external events, engaging with community organization- or one-on-one volunteering opportunities. For international students, volunteering through university can be a good opportunity to make new friends, extend their social contacts and increase their understanding of the local community (Smith et al. 2014).

Leadership was another gain that inexperienced volunteers achieved. The volunteers expressed that they felt what a leader must do and how. Leadership development keeps experienced volunteers challenged, interested, and committed to the organization’s future and the effort to enhance the leadership skills help volunteers personally and professionally (Locket & Boyd, 2012). Cuskelly (1994) stated that if the sport organizations bring volunteers with similar interests together and also facilitate the needs of volunteers to lead and direct others, they can be more successful at building organizational commitment.

Self-confidence and feeling responsible were two other gains achieved by experienced volunteers. Inexperienced volunteers also said that they felt confident after their volunteering. It is critical that the volunteer experience facilitates opportuni¬ties for individuals to demonstrate competence and feel a sense of control and responsibility (Gerson, 1997 cited by: Auld, 2004). The students who volunteer are more likely than non-volunteers to have leadership ability, social self-confidence, and skills in critical thinking and conflict resolution and they expect to gain confidence through volunteering (Holdsworth, 2010; Smith et al. 2014).

Additionally work experience, personal development and interaction were the other gains both experienced and inexperienced volunteers achieved. Kim et al. (2010) stated that many students may utilize their volunteer experiences to gain and/or improve their professional skills, experiences and credentials. These findings are similar to the findings in our study and are not quite surprising considering that student volunteers are mainly at the beginning of their adult life. It is important to consider that student volunteer’s achievements related to their profession and/or personal development may lead them to reconsider their choices and/or to make better decisions about their future.

Although the volunteer retention was not one of the focuses of this study, continuity was mentioned as the fourth theme by both experienced and inexperienced volunteers. Inexperienced students stated that the atmosphere of the event was very good and was not boring therefore they would again be a volunteer for similar events. It can be argued that the atmosphere of both events and including fun games were affecting volunteering experience in a positive way. If the volunteering experience is satisfying, the volunteer might continue volunteering. Continuity for experienced volunteers occurred in the second event which was with disabled persons. Kim et al. (2010) found in their study that volunteers in the special-needs event had higher motivations in all the areas they examined than the other two national and local youth sport organizations.

In the light of all the findings it could be concluded that the volunteer experiences of the students were various and considered as important for their personal and professional development. It was also concluded that recreation programmes can provide meaningful activities (Initiative games, Team work building and Problem Solved Based activities) for the needs of students in both personal and professional development. Therefore it is important for the university curriculum to realize the potential of these kind of activities and to include these in the undergraduate program along with other service education styles, i.e. internship.

Ongoing study is needed to develop and implement successful educational volunteer programs in the universities not only for the School of Physical Education and Sport students but also for the students in other departments/faculties.

I would like to thank Dr. Müberra Çelebi for giving me the inspiration to conduct this study and her help. And, my gratitude to Dr. Dilşad Çoknaz for her support in analysing data and their valuable views about the study.

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