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College students and service: A mixed methods exploration of motivations, choices, and learning outcomes

Ronald D Chesbrough, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this two-phase exploratory mixed methods research was to add to an understanding of the motivations toward service among college students, to get a clearer sense of how students choose their particular service involvements, and to better understand the learning outcomes from service involvement during college. Underlying philosophical assumptions of the study were that service involvement during college contributes in several positive ways to student development, and that student descriptions of their motivations, choices, and learning from service will vary based on gender, year in college, and amount of service performed.^ Findings indicated that students spoke in rich and varied terms about their service involvements, choices, and learning outcomes. Differences did exist in their description of aspects of their service experiences based on gender, hours of service, and to some extent year in school. The study found statistically significant differences in how students responded to questions about motivations toward service, choice of service, and learning outcomes from service based on gender, hours of service, and year in school. The research hypotheses were accepted that differences did exist in how students described motivation toward service, choice of service, and learning from service based on gender and hours of service. ^ Implications of research findings include recommendations for marketing of service opportunities to students in a manner that recognizes gender difference in motivation to serve, involving students in service early in their college careers, offering a variety of types of service involvement, ensuring that students involved in service have an opportunity to discuss and process their learning, and expanding and centralizing service as a core mission of the college or university. Recommendations for further study include replication of the study across several college or university sites and conducting research that would allow for greater discernment of differences in student learning and development between students involved in service and those not involved. ^

Subject Area

Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Chesbrough, Ronald D, "College students and service: A mixed methods exploration of motivations, choices, and learning outcomes" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3386548.