Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Changes in Involvement Preferences as Measured by the Community Service Involvement Preference Inventory

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Changes in Involvement Preferences as Measured by the Community Service Involvement Preference Inventory

Article excerpt

Previous research has confirmed that involvement in activities outside the classroom has positive effects on student learning and success (Astin, 1984; Astin, 1996; Cooper, Healy, & Simpson, 1994; Pascerella & Terrenzini, 1991). Furthermore, learning that is specific to increased social awareness and civic responsibility has been documented when participation involves community service (Astin & Sax, 1998). The qualities of active learning and student involvement characterize the service experience. More recently, these qualities are also common themes identified as precursors to achieving learning outcomes when combining community service and classroom learning.

Learning outcomes of academic service-learning are as unique and diverse as the definition of service-learning itself (Weigert, 1998). It appears that students' motives for involvement as well as the actual learning outcomes differ between academic service-learning and co-curricular community service activities. Although the existence of these differences serves as the premise for this study, this study does not purport to resolve these differences. Instead, the emphasis here is on changes in students' involvement preferences that can be influenced by attitudes, values, and beliefs, thereby allowing any combination of learning outcomes to occur.

With roots in experiential learning, service-learning can be defined as the process of integrating "structured, intentional learning with public and community service" (Stanton, 1990, p. 345). Delve, Mintz, and Stewart (1990) proposed the Service Learning Model as a way to understand students' values development as a result of involvement in community service. The phases of development, including Exploration, Clarification, Realization, Activation, and Internalization, help to describe the learning and values development that may occur as students become invested in helping others. The authors also identified the variables of intervention (quality of interaction between the service provider and recipient), commitment (frequency and duration of experience), behavior (motives for involvement), and balance (appropriate challenge and support necessary for growth) as having the ability to influencing the quality of the service effort.

The Community Service Involvement Preference Inventory (CSIPI) (formerly the Service Learning Inventory) was developed to investigate if differences exist in how students prefer to become involved in community service (Payne, 1993). Based on the Service Learning Model (Delve, Mintz, and Stewart, 1990) the CSIPI suggests that service-learning can influence students' involvement preferences. The initial research revealed that differences in involvement preferences existed between students involved in community service and those who were not involved (Payne, 1993). Another study using the CSIPI suggested that involvement preferences changed as a result of enrollment in a service-learning course (Payne & Bennett, 1999).

Several items for the CSIPI were revised in 1998. Item revisions were based on results of previous administrations of the instrument and the flood of research conducted since the instrument was developed. New coefficients of internal reliability were established for the Inventory as a result.

The purpose of this study was to administer the revised Inventory and investigate if involvement preferences changed during a ten-week term as a result of participating in a service-learning course at a private university in the West. To ascertain whether change occurred, a total of four null hypotheses were established--one for each of the involvement preferences described in the following section. Each hypothesis posited that there would be no difference in mean scores between the first and second administration of the inventory for each involvement preference.

Method

Participants

Undergraduate students enrolled in four sections of a service-learning course offered as an elective in the core curriculum were invited to participate in the study. …

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