Findings from most studies on the impacts of service-learning on K-12 students tend to be based on one assessment too/focusing on one construct (e.g., self-esteem, civic participation, etc.). While conventional research wisdom tells us that this approach is more statistically stable, it does not seem to be adequate for studying service-learning programs. Both service-learning and experiential education researchers face several dilemmas in determining the effects of service-learning activities on students' educational development. The idiosyncratic nature of the program activities, the lack of well-tested assessment instruments, the confounding influences on students learning, etc., make service-learning research a challenging and difficult endeavor. Several researchers are grappling with these dilemmas by inventing new assessment tools and creative practices that attempt to get at the core issues of service-learning in K-12 education. An increasing number of researchers are relying on grand assessments, using a selective collection of methodologies and assessment instruments, to capture the full range of potential outcomes. Here are reports of two such research studies.
Furco, Andrew, "The Use of Grand Assessments in K-12 Service-Learning Research" (1997). Evaluation/Reflection. 46.