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Research on the Assessment of Civic Engagement Linda J. Sax Director, Cooperative Institutional Research Program Associate Professor-in-Residence, UCLA Questions Addressed in HERI Research What do CIRP trends reveal about students’ civic engagement?

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Research on the Assessment of Civic Engagement

Linda J. Sax

Director, Cooperative Institutional Research Program Associate Professor-in-Residence, UCLA


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Questions Addressed in HERI Research

  • What do CIRP trends reveal about students’ civic engagement?

  • How does participation in community service during college impact student outcomes?

  • How does college impact students’ civic values and behaviors in the years after college?


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Major Findings from HERI Research

  • Measures of civic engagement show contrasting trends over time

  • Participation in service during college yields widespread benefits to students

  • Student involvement during college plays a key role in predicting post-college civic engagement


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The CIRP Freshman Survey

  • Largest and longest-running study of American college students

  • Initiated in 1966 at the American Council on Education. Housed at HERI (UCLA) since 1973

  • Administered annually to over 400,000 incoming freshmen at more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide


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The CIRP Freshman Survey

  • Demographic Characteristics

  • Expectations for College

  • High School Experiences

  • Degree Aspirations & Career Plans

  • College Finances

  • Attitudes, Values, & Life Goals

  • Reasons for Attending College


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The I-E-O Model

Educational

Environment

Student

Inputs

Student

Outcomes


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Two Approaches to the Study of Students’ Civic Engagement

Approach #1: Focus on environments

Community Service Participation

Student

Inputs

Student

Outcomes


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Two Approaches to the Study of Students’ Civic Engagement

Approach #2: Focus on outcomes

Educational Environment

Student

Inputs

Civic Values and Behaviors


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Approach #1: Focus on Environments

How does participation in community service during college impact student outcomes?


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Study Design

  • CIRP Freshman Survey

  • College Student Survey

  • 3,450 students

  • 42 “Learn and Serve” institutions

  • 62% service participants

  • 38% non-participants



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Pre-college determinants of service participation

Commitment to the community

Volunteer work in high school

Leadership self-confidence

Religious involvement

Gender

These differences needed to be accounted for prior to assessing the impact of service


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Impact of Service Participation

Positive on All Measures of Life Skills

Leadership ability

Social self-confidence

Critical thinking skills

Conflict resolution skills

Understanding of national and

community problems


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Retention

Grades

Degree aspirations

Academic self-concept

General knowledge

Impact of ServiceParticipation

Positive on All Measures of Educational Attainment


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Impact of Service Participation

Positive on All Measures of Civic Responsibility

Commitment to:

Serving the community

Helping others in difficulty

Cleaning up the environment

Influencing social values

Influencing the political structure

Belief that an individual can change society


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Impact of Service Participation

Positive effects regardless of type of service:

Education, Human Needs,

Public Safety, or Environment

Extended duration of service leads to stronger effects of service


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Approach #2: Focus on Outcomes

How does college impact students’ civic values and behaviors in the years after college?


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Nine-Year Follow-up Survey

  • Freshman Survey

  • Follow-up Survey (College)

  • Nine-Year Follow-up Survey (Post-College)

  • 12,376 Respondents to all three surveys

  • 209 Four-year colleges and universities


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Post-College Outcomes

  • Social Activism

    • Goal: Helping others in difficulty

    • Goal: Influence social values

    • Goal: Participate in a community action program

    • Goal: Influence the political structure

  • Sense of Empowerment

    • Belief that an individual can change society

  • Community Involvement

    • Volunteerism








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Consistency in Volunteerism Over Time

Prior Likelihood of Volunteering…

VolunteerismIn CollegeAfter College

High Yes 2 in 5 1 in 2

School No 1 in 4 1 in 3

College Yes ----- 1 in 2

No ----- 1 in 3


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Commitment to Social Activism

Positive

Peer Group Commitment to Social Activism +

Performing Volunteer Work +

Attending Religious Services +

Attending Class +

Exercising/Sports +

Negative

Engineering Major -

Watching Television -


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Belief that an Individual Can Change Society

Positive

Peer Group Socioeconomic Status +

Socializing with Students from Different Racial/

Ethnic Backgrounds +

Discussing Political and Social Issues +

Attending Religious Services +

Negative

Feeling Depressed -

Believing that College Administrators do not

Care About Student Concerns -


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Participation in Volunteer Work After College

Positive

Peer Group Commitment to Social Activism +

Performing Volunteer Work +

Attending Religious Services +

Attending Racial/Cultural Awareness Workshops +

Socializing with Students from Different Racial/

Ethnic Backgrounds +

Talking with Faculty Outside of Class +

Working Full-Time +


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Summary of Key Influences on Civic Outcomes

  • Volunteerism During College

  • Religious Involvement

  • Diversity Experiences


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The HERI Faculty Survey and the Assessment of Civic Engagement

Professional activities

  • Taught a service-learning class

  • Engaged in teaching or research with a community partner

  • Used your scholarship to address issues in the local community

  • Given talks to local community organizations

  • Performed unpaid consulting work

    Faculty attitudes and values

  • Colleges should facilitate student involvement in community service

  • Colleges have a responsibility to work with the local community to address issues

  • Colleges should be preparing students for responsible citizenship


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The HERI Faculty Survey Engagement

  • 35,000 faculty at over 350 institutions triennially

  • Registration open for 2004-05

  • Special services for ADP and Campus Compact institutions:

    • Institutional data file

    • Special institutional report on community engagement practices and beliefs

    • American Democracy Project Consortium report, comparing your institution to other ADP Schools

  • See http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/faculty.html for more information


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