Can We Count on Counting? An Analysis of the Validity of Community Engagement Survey Measures

Ethan A. Kolek


Researchers use various survey efforts to understand students’ community engagement experiences. Among the crucial pieces of information for both academic and applied research is the extent to which (or whether or not) students participate in community engagement activities. However, recent studies have questioned the validity of many college student survey items. This paper describes an exploratory study that sought to investigate the validity of several survey items related to students’ community engagement participation. The study found that large percentages of students who have taken community-based learning courses do not accurately report these experiences on student surveys and examines what factors relate to misreporting. Implications for future community engagement research are discussed.


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