The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a classroom sponsored community service initiative on students' moral judgment, commitment to civic and social responsibility, and mastery of academic course content. A multi-method approach was utilized to examine developmental and learning outcomes of students participating in two sections of a Philosophical Anthropology II course, both taught by the same instructor, offered at a small liberal arts college. Students in one section of the course participated in a structured service-Iearning experience of approximately 25 hours in length, while students in the other section were asked to complete a library assignment of approximately 25 hours in lieu of the service-Iearning component. An other aspects of the course remained the same.
The primary instrument utilized to measure changes in students' moral judgment was the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1986a) and the main instrument employed to measure changes in students' commitment to civic and soda! responsibility was the Social and Personal Responsibility Scale (Conrad & Hedin. 1981a). Students' mastery of academic course content was determined in large part by the results on a final essay examination.
Based on an analysis of the results of the three primary instruments utilized in this study, little or no evidence was found to suggest that students participating in the service section of the course demonstrated greater gains in their levels of moral judgment, commitment to civic and social responsibility, and mastery of academic course content than did students in the non-service section of the course.
However, analysis of the findings of the more secondary. qualitative aspects of this study tended to differ and to somewhat contradict the quantitative findings. Data generated from student interviews, an interview with the course instructor, student reflection papers, and the results of standardized course evaluations and community service questionnaires suggest that some modest, subtle differences did exist between the overall quality of the educational experience for students in the service section and for students in the non-service section of the course. These differences related primarily to pedagogy, to levels of student involvement in the learning process, and the degree to which students were able to make meaningful connections to social issues and concerns.
Leary, Timothy Patrick, "Combining service and learning: A comparison study of the relationship between a classroom sponsored service learning initiative and the moral, civic and intellectual lives of college students" (1994). Dissertation and Thesis. 22.
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