Assessing Service-Learning: Results from a Survey of "Learn and Serve America, Higher Education"

by Maryann Jacobi Gray, Elizabeth Heneghan, Ronald D. Fricker, Sandy A. Geschwind

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Learn and Serve America, Higher Education (LSAHE) aims to increase involvement in community service by higher education institutions and students. It emphasizes an approach to community service, called "service-learning," that focuses on the development of service providers as well as service recipients. As part of their evaluation of LSAHE, the authors surveyed students from institutions with LSAHE grants and the community service organizations the students served. Although service learning courses demanded more time from students than comparison courses, students showed a high level of satisfaction with them. Service-learning students were also more likely than comparison students to report that the course had increased their current or expected level of involvement in civic affairs and improved their life skills, but they were no more likely to report that the course had improved their academic skills or their career preparation. Community organization respondents gave students high marks for effectiveness, enthusiasm, and interpersonal skills, but felt that they lacked sufficient time for volunteer work. These findings point to the need to use "best practices" to ensure the quality of service-learning.

Originally published in: Change, v. 32, no. 2, March/April 2000, pp. 30-39.

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