The impact of service-learning on cognitive development
Bozeman, Marci L
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Providing students with service opportunities as an instructional tool has recently gained the attention of educators and legislative policy-makers. Participation in service activity has been positively correlated with attitudinal outcomes and the development of a responsible citizenry. While many philosophical and political proposals have been offered for why service-learning initiatives are important to higher education, this study attempted to gain insight into how service-learning impacts college students, specifically, students' cognitive development. The cognitive development of students participating in four service-learning sociology courses at a large, southeastern research university was measured using Erwin's (198J.) Scale of Intellectual Development- IV (SID). The SID-IV measures cognitive growth using Perry's (1968) scheme of cognitive development. The research design was a 2 (servicel non-service) X 2 (pre-testlpost-test) fa~torial design. In addition, analyses were conducted using course type, course instructor, and participant academic level to further elucidate group differences in cognitive growth. As a measure of the salience of the SL experience to the learning of course material, participants were asked to write a short answer to the question, "What activities in this class helped you learn the course materials best?" Responses 'were analyzed by SLINSL, length of response, and rank order of activities mentioned. The null hypothesis that there are no differences in the degree of Perry level thinking among service-learning participants (SL) and non-service-leaming (NSL) participants on pre- and post-test measures was supported empirically. Significant differences among participants were found by course type, instructor, and academic classification. Results of the short answer question provided anecdotal evidence that students perceived service as a meaningful method of learning in the class.
- Masters Theses