Impact of Service-Learning on Students

Goals For Students in Service-Learning Classes May Include:

  • Students have the opportunity to do what they are learning in class through experiential education.
  • Students have deeper understanding of self and their involvement in the community.
  • Students are more aware of issues in the community and develop a sense of responsibility to address those issues.
  • Students are exposed to diverse communities therefore dispelling misconceptions.
  • Students have a shared experience and opportunity to develop classroom cohesiveness.
  • Students develop civic responsibility and plan for future involvement.

Research Has Shown That Service-Learning Impacts Students

  1. Learning Outcomes
    • Increases academic learning
    • Increases ability to apply what they've learned in real world
    • Some studies show a positive impact and some no impact on grades and GPA
    • Increases critical thinking and problem analysis skills
    • Some studies show a positive impact and some no impact on cognitive moral development
  2. Personal Outcomes
    • Increases personal efficacy
    • Increases understanding of identity
    • Supports spiritual growth
    • Supports moral development
    • Supports interpersonal development such as team work, leadership, and communication skills
  3. Social Outcomes
    • Reduces or supports stereotyping
    • Facilitates cultural and racial understanding
    • Increases social responsibility, activism and citizenship skills
    • Increases commitment to service
    • Service in college is associated with involvement in service after graduation
  4. Career Development
    • Builds resume experience 
    • Service hours are applicable to future job opportunities and/or graduate school 
    • Increases networking opportunities 
    • Service work can be highlight on Portfolium and linked to LinkedIn profiles 
  5. Relationship with institution
  6. Impact of service-learning classes with a political focus
    • Both students with an interest in politics and those without experience significant gains in just about every dimension of every civic learning
    • Students with little prior interest in the political process have larger and more consistent gains in civic learning
    • No impact on political ideology
    • No impact on political party affiliation²

1 From At a Glance: What We Know About the Effects of Service-Learning on College Students, Faculty, Institutions and Communities. Janet S. Eyler, Dwight E. Giles, Jr., Christine M. Stenson, and Charlene J. Gray.

²The Place of Political Learning in College Anne Colby. Spring/Summer 2008 Peer Review.

Impact of CSL on Students Cognitive DevelopmentConcentric circles with student, faculty and partners

Impact of Service-Learning and Social Justice Education on College Students' Cognitive Development, NASPA Journal, 2006, Vol. 43, no. 2 (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators)

ABSTRACT: This study used the Measure of Epistemology Reflection to explore the impact of service-learning and social justice education on college students' cognitive development. Six service-learning courses taught with or without a social justice emphasis were studied. Results showed that service-learning courses in general had a positive impact on students' cognitive development, while service-learning courses with a social justice emphasis appeared to have more impact on students' cognitive development than those without a social justice emphasis.