Building Individual Reciprocity into Campus-Community Partnerships


  • Eric Malm Cabrini College


Extending educational experiences beyond the traditional boundaries of the classroom is an exciting yet challenging prospect. As the classroom context changes the power structure of the class is also likely to change, shifting from the instructor to students and community members.  This article describes how a campus-community partnership has evolved in ways which place increased emphasis on student engagement and individual student participation. Building on a notion of individual reciprocity, a service-learning course partnered with a local arts festival has been gradually restructured to provide the opportunity and expectation for each student to bring personal skills and interests to the community, participating in much the same way as volunteer members of the community. Several strategies were employed for identifying and utilizing individual student interests, including the creation of a Community Contribution Statement. Student engagement was measured using both the Community Service Self-Efficacy Scale and tangible measures of student participation to assess whether a course designed around the notion of individual reciprocity provided improved student outcomes.  Results from this study showed significantly higher self-efficacy scores than benchmark service-learning courses and yielded improved student performance.

Author Biography

Eric Malm, Cabrini College

Associate Professor of Economics and Business