Contributing factors to meaningful service -learning and intention for future volunteerism: A case study at a community college
Service-learning is a teaching tool in which a service experience is assigned in an academic course and is different from other teaching tools such as internships or out-of-classroom volunteer work. Service-learning offers a structured reflection component targeted at applying classroom knowledge to societal issues with the ultimate goal of encouraging students to volunteer within their communities in the future (Mooney & Edwards, 2001). Astin (1993) suggests that service-learning is one of the most promising practices to help students understand their responsibility to support society through volunteerism.
This study sought to assess a service-learning program at a community college that used three essential service-learning program components to determine its impact, if any, on the students. The three essential service-learning components used in the study were: (1) the students' connection between course material and the service experience, (2) the extent to which the students believe participation in service-learning had an impact on the community; and (3) the training or orientation students receive at the community agency.
Using a qualitative case study approach, this research effort sought to understand contributing factors to meaningful service-learning and intention for future volunteerism at a community college among nontraditional students. Multiple data sources were collected and triangulated to formulate the findings of the study. The data sources gathered and analyzed included faculty survey results, course syllabi, agency surveys, student surveys, both prior to the implementation of the Service-Learning Center and following their service-learning experience in the classroom, and semi-structured interviews conducted with students who were of a nontraditional age and participated in service-learning as part of an academic course.
Findings confirmed much of the previous research. Results of the study revealed the importance of the three essential service-learning program components identified previously, as well as the potential for service-learning experiences to increase the likelihood that students will intend to volunteer after graduation. This study also expanded the previous body of literature and yielded a number of new implications for practice and future research.
0514: School administration
0745: Higher education