In the past twenty years, higher education has been criticized for what is perceived to be a failure to create better citizens. As a result of this criticism, a variety of pedagogical and curricula innovations have been attempted. One of these innovations is service learning, a form of experiential learning, which engages students in activities that combine fulfillment of community needs and opportunities for promotion of student learning and development (Kendall, 1990). This study hypothesized that moral development and empathy would increase over the course of the required service learning experience in the first semester of college and that required service learning experience is related to students decision to continue in voluntary prosocial behavior. Using the Defining Issues Test of Moral Development (Rest. 1980) and the Jackson Personality Inventory scale of empathy (1994). the study investigated students' levels of postconventional moral development and empathy at the beginning and the conclusion of the required service learning experience. During the second semester, students were surveyed to determine if they had continued in voluntary service. The total sample size comprised 212 students; 129 females and 83 males. The mean age was 18. Data were analyzed using SPSS program. Survey results attempted to identify those factors that influence students' decision to continue in voluntary pro social behavior. Findings from this study showed that high school voluntary service (p < .00), on-site faculty mentorship (p < .00), levels of empathy at the conclusion of the semester following the required service learning experience (p < .00) and levels of post conventional moral development at the conclusion of the first semester of college following the required service learning experience (p < .00) have a significant relationship to students' decisions to continue in voluntary prosocial behavior. A profile materializes suggesting that colleges who have employed service learning curriculum or are interested in introducing service learning curriculum must work on a reward system for faculty and student/faculty partnerships. A suggestion is made for voluntary service to be implemented prior to the last semester of the last year of high school. Recommendations for future research are also discussed.
Hudec, Susan M., "Inducing Voluntary Community Service in Undergraduates: The Relative Contributions of Prior Experience, Coursework, and the Dispositions of Empathy and Moral Development" (2002). Dissertation and Thesis. 24.
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