Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Service-Learning and Student Attitudes

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Service-Learning and Student Attitudes

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study sought to investigate the effects of the Lighthouse Partnership After-School Service-Learning Program on middle school students' attitudes and actions related to social and academic responsibility. Results indicated that the Lafayette Middle School students participating in the Lighthouse Partnership After-School Service-Learning Program showed statistically significant increases in Social and Academic Responsibility scores.

Introduction

Our nation is starving for dutiful citizens who will help care for each other and our country. The National Commission on Civic Renewal (1998) reported a rapid decline in both the quantity and quality of citizen engagement. It stated that "our overall civic condition is weaker than it was--and in need of significant improvement" (p. 23). The report recommended more research be conducted to determine how educators might rebuild positive citizen engagement from within the school system. Such engagement is thought to result in a more active and productive American society and government. The National Commission on Civic Renewal does not stand alone with the notion that positive citizen engagement may be rebuilt from within the school system. Current research indicates a relationship between the formation of citizenship and school experiences, a link between academic responsibility and social responsibility, and identifies the need for further research in the area of Service-Learning Programs as a way to enhance the social and academic engagement of at-risk students.

Research indicates a relationship between the formation of citizenship and school experiences. Youniss and Yates (1997) reported that the formation of citizenship is a developmental process. Through careful review and statistical analysis of previous studies, they found a significant relationship between adult levels of social engagement, sense of social responsibility, and the amount of participation in organized activities and civic behaviors they experienced as youth, 15 or more years earlier. The study concluded that adults who participated as students in high school government or community service projects are more likely to vote and to join community organizations than are adults who did not participate in government or community service. Secondly, research results support a link between academic responsibility and social responsibility. Scales, Blyth, Berkas, and Kielsmeier (2000) reported that students who are academically responsible are more likely to become socially responsible. While in school, students are expected to abide by certain rules and regulations. By building a bridge from the school community to the civic community, students will be more likely to follow rules and regulations in all areas of life (Scales et al.). Finally, research identifies the need for further research to be conducted in the area of Service-Learning. Cynthia L. White (2000) found that engaging students academically and socially was an imminent challenge for educators. Often, teachers encounter disengaged students who may be on a path to school drop out. Based on a study to determine how seventh grade students' educational and social engagement was affected when they participated in a summer Service-Learning orientation program, White recommended the need for further research in the area of Service-Learning Programs as a way to enhance the social and academic engagement of at-risk students.

Service-Learning Intervention

Mintz and Liu (1994) reported that Service-Learning is a teaching and learning method that connects meaningful community service experience with academic learning, personal growth, and civic responsibility. The Corporation for National and Community Service (2002) reported that Service-Learning combines service to a community and student learning in a positive way. This is thought to result in improvement of both the student and the community. Involving students in Service-Learning activities was one of the objectives established under the third National Education Goal for the year 2000, which sought to prepare students for responsible citizenship (Corporation for National Service, 1999). …

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