Effects of service-learning on student attitudes toward academic engagement and civic responsibility

Larry Joseph Moss, Florida International University

Abstract

This empirical study explored the impact of service-learning participation on high school students' attitudes toward academic engagement and civic responsibility. This study focused whether a group of high school students who participated in a service-learning project had more positive attitudes toward academic engagement and civic responsibility than their high school peers who did not participate in a service learning project. ^ Data were collected from 67 volunteer students as participants in grades 9–12. A service-learning treatment group of 34 high school students was examined relative to a comparison group of 33 high school students with similar demographic and academic characteristics. The investigator used questionnaires, an oral history/service-learning project, and interviews with the teacher-coordinators of the project to collect the data. The two surveys, one investigating high school students' attitudes about academic engagement, the other investigating high school students' attitudes toward civic responsibility, were administered in a pre-treatment/post-treatment design. There were 90 days between the pre-treatment and post-treatment administrations. A factor analysis of the civic responsibility instrument and multivariate analysis of gain scores were used to compare the means of the total aggregate scores of the treatment and comparison groups. Factor analysis was performed on the academic engagement instrument but it was determined that only the total scores could be used in subsequent analyses. Results were used to determine the efficacy of service-learning as interpreted in student attitudes toward academic engagement and student attitudes toward civic responsibility. ^ The study found no significant difference between the academic engagement and the civic responsibility attitudes of a high school service-learning project group and a high school comparison group with comparable school and similar demographic characteristics. One of the implications for educational practice and policy from the study results is a need to design and implement more powerful studies, studies implemented at many sites rather than just at two sites that were the basis of this study, and studies that investigate the research questions over longer time periods. Although it was not a focus of the study, the investigator concluded that service learning projects such as this might be more effective if they were better aligned with Dewey's principles. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Moss, Larry Joseph, "Effects of service-learning on student attitudes toward academic engagement and civic responsibility" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3377927.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3377927

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