Department of Educational Administration


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor in Education, Major: Educational Administration; Under the Supervision of Professor Larry Dlugosh
Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2009
Copyright (c) 2009 Kraig James Lofquist


The purpose of this mixed methods triangulation design study was to explore how “service learning” affects “at-risk” student’s overall level of Developmental Assets. Quantitative data were obtained by using a pre and post assessment. Specifically, the Developmental Asset Profile (DAP) was used to determine if “service learning” opportunities increased the overall levels of developmental assets experienced by the atrisk student group. Additionally, qualitative data were gained by interviewing service learning participants to supplement the quantitative data collected in the Developmental Asset Profile.

Participants included 37 “at-risk” youth who were selected to participate in a service learning program. The students selected to participate were considered to be “atrisk,” because they simultaneously experienced poor behavior, poor attendance, and poor academic performance.

The data indicated that developmental asset levels significantly improved after atrisk students participated in service learning projects. Results indicated a statistically significant difference not only in the overall level of developmental assets but also in each of the eight asset categories as determined by the pre and post test data. The qualitative data obtained from one-on-one interviews substantiated the quantitative results. Three prominent themes regarding service learning and at-risk students emerged from the qualitative data including a sense of altruism, enjoyment, and associative learning.

Adviser: Larry Dlugosh