Assessing the Effect of Students? Perceptions on Benefits Received from Participation in Service-Learning
Goolsby, Tessa Maring
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This study examined how teachers' perceptions and attitudes and students' perceptions impacted the learning outcomes students received from their participation in service-learning. Service-learning is a form of experiential learning that endeavors to enhance students' academic and civic education through participation in community service. Two learning outcomes of service-learning were investigated: student problem solving and leadership skills. The data consisted of survey responses from 443 middle and high school students and their respective teachers that participated in evaluation research conducted by the Texas Center for Service-Learning and Texas A&M University during the 2007-2008 academic year. The survey items used from the teacher surveys focused on whether teachers felt that administrators took their opinions and ideas into account when making decisions regarding the service-learning program, as well as items that focused on teachers' general attitude towards the program. Survey items used from the student surveys focused on whether students felt their teacher enjoyed service-learning projects, as well as survey items that focused on students' selfefficacy in terms of problem solving and leadership skills. The basic hypotheses were: (1) the more institutionalized the service-learning program is in the students' school, the more positive benefits they receive from their program involvement, (2) when students perceive that they have more ownership of the service-learning program, they receive more benefits from their participation, and (3) the more positively students perceive the teacher's perception of the service-learning program, the more positive benefits students receive for their program involvement. Path analysis and multiple regression are used to test the hypotheses. Contrary to what was expected, the data indicated that institutionalization was significantly, negatively related to student problem solving (-.3007, p less than or equal to .001) and leadership skills (-.4020, p less than or equal to .001). As expected, the data showed that student perception of student ownership of the service-learning program was significantly, positively related to student problem solving (1.0845, p less than or equal to .05) and leadership skills (2.4721, p less than or equal to .001). The data also showed that teacher attitude was very important in regard to student perception of the teacher's attitude and student perception of student ownership of the program, as well as student problem solving and leadership skills. The data suggested that the teacher's attitude was more important in terms of student learning outcomes than the student's perception of the teacher's attitude.