IU East faculty member examines role, value of community service at Indiana Colleges

December 13th, 2007

The public is supportive of service-learning courses for Hoosier college students according to a recently published report by Indiana Campus Compact. The report was written by Ange Cooksey, an Indiana University East humanities lecturer, for the ICC and shows the support Indiana institutions for higher education have from the public in service learning opportunities for their students.

Cooksey worked with researchers Robert G. Bringle and Julie Hatcher of the Center for Service and Learning at IUPUI, and the Survey Research Center, at IUPUI. Jacquelyn McCracken, executive director of ICC, was the project director. Three studies funded by the Lilly Endowment for the project included student retention, public perception of higher education and the impact of service on communities.

Through the eight-year study, researchers found that service-learning courses, especially in the first semester of college, help influence students’ decisions to return to those campuses. The general public supports service-learning and would be even more favorable to it if they understood that it helps prepare students for professional careers and civic life. Hoosiers whose lives are touched by community service like the service and want more of it. However, the general public lacks complete awareness of the full array of service incentives on campuses.

In Cooksey’s written report, service learning is a rewarding experience for students and leads some to continue such projects outside of college. Residents believe the most significant roles of higher education are to prepare students to be our community’s future leaders and improve the quality of life in those communities. The compiled research reveals that a majority of Hoosiers believe that undergraduate college education would be improved if community service were part of every student’s course of study.

In addition, Indiana residents recognize the importance of a college education and that high levels of quality education are available in our state.

ICC is a network of college campuses that involve students, faculty, and staff in service-learning and civic engagement in order to educate citizens, prepare future leaders, and contribute to the quality of life of communities.

For more information on Indiana Campus Compact, visit www.indianacampuscompact.org.

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