Increasing Expression of Civic-Engagement Values by Students in a Service-Learning Chemistry Course
A service-learning course at a midsized Midwestern research university was modified over a period of six years to integrate best-practice pedagogies that have been shown to increase civic engagement by students. Best-practice pedagogies included regular interaction with community partner(s), significant time spent on the service activity, and regular reflection (written and verbal) on the implications of the service activity. Besides water quality monitoring, students performed private well water analysis, wrote multiple formal reflection papers, and presented a public talk on the results of their project that included significant discussion time with community partners. Authentic expression of civic engagement values was assessed in final written reflections submitted by students to determine the effect new pedagogies had on students’ civic and professional identities. Five values were assessed: (1) identity within the community, (2) commitment to civic engagement, (3) connection between academic content and service, (4) teamwork, and (5) communication with community partners. Statistical analysis showed that differences in expression of civic-engagement values between pre- and post-service-learning best practices were highly significant. The most effective strategy employed multiple written reflections where students were provided with specific reflection prompts and a grading rubric, a public presentation by students of the results, significant interaction between students and their individual partners, in-class discussion of teamwork, and in-class discussion of scientists as citizens.
McGowin, A. E.
(2019). Increasing Expression of Civic-Engagement Values by Students in a Service-Learning Chemistry Course. Journal of Chemical Education, 96 (10), 2158-2166.