Research Publication Title

Perceptions of Student Service Participation in a Liberal Arts Education

Presenter Information

Lily JohnsonFollow

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Amanda Reinke

Keywords

community service, motivation, perception, liberal arts, college students

Abstract

Community service is consistently listed as a cornerstone of liberal arts education. Most research on service participation among college students predominantly studies mandatory service-learning programs. Several studies gathered quantitative data with surveys to analyze opinions and feelings towards volunteering from students at universities with a service-learning component. Georgia College, a public liberal arts university, also claims community service is an integral part of their mission in order to broaden students’ perspectives and form engaged citizens. This is reflected by the large proportion of Georgia College students participating in service voluntarily. However, there is little data examining student motivations and perceptions of their service experiences as part of their wider education at GCSU. This research project addresses these gaps using two methods: participant observation during service events and semi-structured interviewing with students engaged in service activities and employees interested in student service involvement. Preliminary findings display a wide array of motivations for student service participation relating to both intrinsic and extrinsic motives, but social engagement with other students appears to be the predominant motivator. Interview data relates service to the liberal arts mission as a method of expanding perspectives of students, a characteristic which is displayed through participation in a wide range of service opportunities. These results appear to support current literature on this topic in addition to exploring deep-seated motivators for voluntary service participation.

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Perceptions of Student Service Participation in a Liberal Arts Education

Community service is consistently listed as a cornerstone of liberal arts education. Most research on service participation among college students predominantly studies mandatory service-learning programs. Several studies gathered quantitative data with surveys to analyze opinions and feelings towards volunteering from students at universities with a service-learning component. Georgia College, a public liberal arts university, also claims community service is an integral part of their mission in order to broaden students’ perspectives and form engaged citizens. This is reflected by the large proportion of Georgia College students participating in service voluntarily. However, there is little data examining student motivations and perceptions of their service experiences as part of their wider education at GCSU. This research project addresses these gaps using two methods: participant observation during service events and semi-structured interviewing with students engaged in service activities and employees interested in student service involvement. Preliminary findings display a wide array of motivations for student service participation relating to both intrinsic and extrinsic motives, but social engagement with other students appears to be the predominant motivator. Interview data relates service to the liberal arts mission as a method of expanding perspectives of students, a characteristic which is displayed through participation in a wide range of service opportunities. These results appear to support current literature on this topic in addition to exploring deep-seated motivators for voluntary service participation.