The Impact of Community Based Learning on Civic Engagement
Community-based learning (CBL) has been linked to improved student civic engagement. However, few studies have evaluated the long-term impact of CBL on student engagement. This study examines students’ self-evaluation (N=1,257) of the impact CBL experiences on their civic engagement attitudes and skills at an R1 Liberal Arts institution. The study data comes from the Community Based Learning Impact Scale (CBLIS), a 40-question survey of undergraduates and graduates enrolled in a CBL course. Using data from 2011–2018, a civic engagement score based on 12 CBLIS questions was created and analyzed using T-tests, ANOVA, regression, and time series analysis to determine the impact student CBL experiences had on improvements in civic engagement attitudes and skills. Compared with white students, students of color reported greater improvements in civic attitudes and skills. Overall, students reported a significant improvement in their civic engagement after completing their CBL course (p=.001). Number of hours spent on CBL and adequate time to complete the work were significant predictors of improvements for Black/African American, Asian American, and Hispanic students’ civic engagement attitudes and skills. Interestingly, no significant findings emerged between civic engagement score and number of hours of outside school commitments for any groups in this study.
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