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The impact of student characteristics on students' perceptions of service-learning

by Shultz, Karen E.

Abstract (Summary)
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 iv 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. v 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. vi vii
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:service learning college students social justice transformative

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