Institutional Transformation: The Role of Service Learning and Community Engagement on the Ethical Development of STEM Students and Campus Culture

Colin Potts (PI), Jason Borenstein, Wendy Newstetter, Daniel Schiff, and Ellen Zegura

This five-year project, funded by the National Science Foundation, aims to determine whether appropriately structured community engagement, including service learning, actively contributes to the moral maturation of students and facilitates the broadening of their sphere of ethical concern. The research team aims to discover: (1) whether and how repeat exposure to the public through curriculum-based community engagement can promote the concern that students have for the public's well-being; (2) what role extracurricular community engagement activities play, if any, in increasing student concern for the public; and (3) whether a new service learning program focused on community engagement and sustainability can have a transformative institutional impact. The research team is rigorously evaluating the effects that various forms of community engagement have on students' perceptions of their ethical responsibilities to the public. A mixed quantitative and qualitative approach is being used to understand what, why, and how community engagement experiences affect the mindset of students. The project should reveal the institutional impact of a broad-based effort to increase opportunities in community engagement and could readily inform curricular design at numerous institutions.

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