Virginia Tech has been a world leader in electronic theses and dissertation initiatives for more than 20 years. On January 1, 1997, Virginia Tech was the first university to require electronic submission of theses and dissertations (ETDs). Ever since then, Virginia Tech graduate students have been able to prepare, submit, review, and publish their theses and dissertations online and to append digital media such as images, data, audio, and video.
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The purpose of this research was to explore the relationship of the use of service learning in teaching and selected dimensions of college student development. The research was guided by the question, "To what extent do three levels of experience in community service, including participation with and without reflection about the service and no participation, affect students' sense of civic or citizenship responsibilities, respect for diversity, development of skills, and knowledge of self?"
A pretest/posttest design was employed to measure the four dimensions of growth associated with participation in community service learning experiences. The sample was 116 students enrolled at James Madison University and Radford University. Data from the pretest and posttest was analyzed by ANOVA procedures that allowed examination by gender, race, and previous volunteer experience. Additionally, qualitative data were collected from student journal entries that displayed reflections of the students about their service learning experiences. These entries were guided by predetermined questions about written scenarios concerning service and volunteerism.
The results indicated the pretest/posttest instrument reliability was in the average to low range. The subsequent analysis found no significant differences in the scores of the students on the pretest/posttest. However, there was a significant difference between the scores of men and women on both the pretest and posttest. The students' reflections in the journal entries provided many examples of student development on the four dimensions of growth. It was concluded from this examination that service learning with reflection had contributed to student development. This was inferred from both the number and quality of the student statements. The students believed the service learning experience had facilitated an increasing appreciation for diversity, the development of additional skills, and a greater awareness of self. The fourth dimension, civic awareness, was displayed by many students before they began the service learning experience, and it was harder to evaluate change on this dimension as a result of the six week experience.
Additional research was suggested to refine the pretest instrument and to focus on longer service learning experiences. Findings from this research should be useful to educators interested in service learning in their instruction and provide guidance on the important role of reflection in the experience.