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Historically, higher education institutions have charged departments such as Academic Affairs with students' academic growth, and Student Affairs with their social and emotional development. Where and how these two come together to engage the holistic development of students will differ widely among institutions. This research premise was to investigate a method that could help bridge Academic Affairs and Student Affairs areas. A comprehensive review of the literature on educational reforms in higher education delineates service-learning as an innovative pedagogy for impacting the holistic development of students while enhancing the scholarship of engagement throughout the institutions. This research outlines theories, principles, and legislation influencing the context of service-learning as an education reform, with specific emphasis on higher education.

In response to the paucity of models that reflect the institutional immersion of service-learning within the total culture of higher education institutions, the Project Demonstrating Excellence (PDE) is a causal-comparative study using quantitative analysis to assess data on the level of service-learning engagement at public versus private colleges and universities in the southeast and the variables that indicate the depth of engagement. The assumption of this study was that there is no significant difference between public and private institutions. The findings conclude that there is a significant difference between the extent of service-learning at private versus public institutions relative to the following variables: (1) philosophy and mission of service-learning, (2) faculty support for and involvement in service-learning, (3) student support for and involvement in service-learning, (4) community participation and partnerships, and (5) institutional support for service-learning.

Data collected for this study, using the Self-Assessment Rubric for the Institutionalization of Service-Learning in Higher Education, will help higher education institutions with existing service-learning programs assess their level of engagement. It will also serve as a foundation for building other innovative programs designed to strengthen teaching and learning in higher education by providing concrete variables for broadening their scope of campus engagement. In addition, it encourages the institutional immersion of programs such as service-learning within the culture of higher education institutions as an innovative means for helping to achieve institutions' missions relative to teaching, research, and public service.


Copyright 2005 by Gwenda R. Greene

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