The impact of student characteristics on students' perceptions of service-learning
Dafina L. Stewart, Advisor
This study examined service-learning students’ perceptions of service, as either charity or
social justice and how they identified themselves and the people whom they served at their
service sites. To capture information focusing upon service and identity and perceptions of
others, the Service-Learning Perspective Transformation Survey (SLPTS) was developed based
upon prior research and the Student Service-Learning Course Survey (SSLCS) from The Ohio
State University. The SLPTS contained three sections: Section I had six statements focusing
upon charitable responsibility and six statements focusing upon social justice responsibility;
Section II contained questions about the survey respondents’ demographic characteristics; and
Section III contained questions that asked about perceptions of the characteristics of the people
served at their service-learning site. In Section I, both social justice responsibility and charitable
responsibility were determined through six dimensions: Knowledge, Skills, Efficacy, Values,
Responsibility, and Commitment. Respondents rated their levels of agreement to each statement
on a 7-point Likert scale. Two research questions focused the study: First, did students who were
similar or dissimilar to the people they served have different views of service as either charity or
social justice? Second, did students differ from each other in their views of service as either
charity or social justice according to demographic subgroup characteristics?
Bowling Green State University students enrolled in education service-learning courses
in Spring 2007 completed the survey. The sample comprised 509 students in 23 course sections.
The sample was largely homogenous demographically (67.5% women, 85.45% White, 92.6%
traditional age college students). However, their reported views of service differed by
demographic subgroup characteristics and their perceived dissimilarity to the people they served
at the service site.
Multivariate analyses of variance found no statistically significant differences when the
degree of total group similarity to people served at their service sites was compared to their
responses. Yet, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post hoc test Tukey’s HSD yielded several
statistically significant differences of means:
Respondents who viewed the people they served to be from a lower social class
from their own rated in higher agreement to the Skills and Efficacy statements in
the Social Justice Responsibility Domain.
Women rated in higher agreement than men in the Values and Commitment
dimensions of the Charitable Responsibility Domain and in the Commitment
dimensions of the Social Justice Domain.
Individuals who had been enrolled for two years rated in higher agreement on the
Responsibility dimension of the Charitable Responsibility Domain and on the
Commitment dimension of the Social Justice Domain.
Those who were enrolled for less than three years or more than three years rated
in higher agreement than those who were enrolled for three years on the Skills
dimensions of the Charitable Responsibility Domain.
Students who came from urban areas responded in higher agreement than those
who came from rural areas to the Skills statement in the Social Justice Domain.
Respondents whose family of origin’s highest education level was a baccalaureate
degree rated in higher agreement than those whose family had completed some or
all of high school for the Skills statement in the Social Justice Domain.
Students who identified themselves as Christians responded in stronger agreement
than those who did not identify as Christian to statements in the Efficacy, Values,
and Commitment dimensions of the Charitable Responsibility Domain and in the
Values Dimension of the Social Justice Domain.
Interpretations of the survey data showed that while students did have differences within
their own demographic subgroup characteristics, the differences in views based upon perceived
similarity/dissimilarity with the people served at their service sites were minimal. It is suggested
that the homogenous sample, whose characteristics were largely similar to those they served at
their sites, did not provide a large enough sample of students who were dissimilar from the
people they served. Implications for future research and service-learning course design were
discussed with focus upon how similar research questions could be better addressed through use
of a modified experimental design that could compare a control group to a sample that had more
dissimilarity between the students and the people served at the site.
For all people engaged in service; may you find your own moment(s) of transformation.
School:Bowling Green State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:service learning college students social justice transformative
Date of Publication: