Title: The Effects of Community-based and Civic Engagement in Higher Education
Author: Jessica R. Chittum, Kathryn A. E. Enke, Ashley P. Finley
High-impact practices (HIPs) are staples in higher education teaching that can have a positive influence on learning indicators for undergraduate students. In a new report, AAC&U synthesized the literature on the use of HIPs to assess how college students develop civic and community-based skills. The research also sought to explore equity gaps in student outcomes.
The authors assessed 53 publications, including 31 multi-institutional and 22 large-scale single institution studies. The authors categorized HIPs found in the studies into two categories:
- Campus-based HIPs: First-year seminars and experiences, collaborative assignments and projects, common intellectual experiences, undergraduate research, learning communities, capstone courses and projects, writing- and inquiry-intensive courses, and e-Portfolios
- Community-based HIPs: Diversity, study away, and global learning; internships and field experiences; and service learning and community-based learning
Utilizing AAC&U’s Essential Learning Outcomes as a framework, the authors categorized outcomes of HIPs into the following: graduation and retention, intellectual and practical skills, mindsets and dispositions, personal and social responsibility, learning, and postgraduation plans and career skills.
Among the studies analyzed, 71 percent used self-reported data and 29 percent used direct assessments. Service learning was the most cited HIP and was associated most frequently with personal and social responsibility outcomes. Literature indicated that participation in service learning also improved skills in critical thinking, intrapersonal development, and intercultural awareness, among others. Also, service learning was positively associated with increased retention and graduation rates, continuing studies, and institutional outcomes.
The authors shared that there is some correlation between education and community and civic engagement post-college. For example, 8 percent of the studies indicated that participation in HIPs increased career exploration skills and interest in public service areas. These were influenced by experiences in service learning, study abroad, and internships—which also positively affected students’ awareness and understanding of diversity and social issues.
A gap found in the research was the lack of assessment of HIPs from an equity-minded perspective. It is imperative to note that 21 percent of the studies included findings related to underserved student populations. Demographics such as race, first-generation status, and Pell Grant eligibility were common variables across studies. In assessing underserved populations, the authors shared that engagement in HIPs resulted in positive outcomes for students who participated compared to those who did not.
To read the report in full, click here.