Student Employment and Perceptions of Service-Learning


  • Jennifer Reed-Bouley College of Saint Mary
  • Molly A Wernli College of Saint Mary
  • Paul Sather University of Nebraska Omaha


Community service-learning is a “high impact” teaching strategy that responds to contemporary challenges facing higher education. Some faculty, however, remain reluctant to use service-learning in their courses because they believe it does not fit into busy student schedules, given increases in the percentage of employed students and increases in their average number of hours worked per week. This study was undertaken to determine if students’ views of the learning they derived from community service-learning were affected by their employment. Students (N = 173) from two universities completed a survey at the end of their service-learning courses, where they reported both the number of hours they work on average per week and their perceptions of service-learning. The main findings were: a) students’ perceptions of service-learning were not adversely affected by their employment; b) the overwhelming majority of students reported very positive perceptions of service-learning; and c) although first- generation students of color (but not first-generation white students) worked significantly more than non-first-generation students, they reported positive perceptions of service-learning consistent with the overall sample. These findings support service-learning as a valuable teaching-learning strategy in college courses for all students, including those who work significant numbers of hours per week.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Reed-Bouley, College of Saint Mary

Professor, Theology

Molly A Wernli, College of Saint Mary

Associate Professor, Psychology

Paul Sather, University of Nebraska Omaha

Director, Service Learning Academy and  American Humanics Program