Doctoral Dissertation, December 1, 2008. 104 pages.
The purpose of this study is to determine if components of service-learning, such as interaction with service beneficiaries, can be linked to significant gains in civic responsibility and motivation to continue community service. Specifically, this study examines self-efficacy as a catalyst for these increases. All data collected provides insight into how students internalize the service-learning experience and their outward demonstration of learning.
The study utilized a pre/post-test quasi-experimental design. The course ECON 303 (Economics of Poverty, Race and Discrimination) was used for this research. The control group was made up of three sections, and the experimental group was made up of two sections. Both groups participated in a service-learning component in the course. The experimental group had a component added to the service-learning process - a panel presentation by members of the homeless community.
In this study, both groups were less motivated to perform community service at the end of the study. In particular, the experimental group, in contrast to the control group, showed a greater decrease, in motivation to do service. When weighing the possible implications of the limitations of this study, it appears that the most likely explanation for the pre- to post-test decrease in motivation to be civically engaged was the brevity of the treatment.
If the results of the study are to be believed, we have to have greater placement quality, duration of service, intensity of interaction, reflection, and feedback. Another plausible explanation for the findings is the limitation of the instrument utilized to measure change. Future research should focus on more experimental designs that use intervention and more methods of measuring change in motivation.