Integration of community service with academic courses in Connecticut institutions of higher education

Date of Completion

January 1995


Education, Sociology of|Education, Higher




One of the most formidable boundaries inhibiting learning in a university setting is the physical and practical limitations of the classroom. Faculty have found innovative ways to address this problem. One pedagogical approach, consistent with a long service tradition in American colleges and universities, is to send students into the community to combine theory with experience through service. As students acquire experience, they give pro bono or below-market services which would not be available to or financially possible for many businesses, schools, or nonprofit organizations.^ This study is an attempt to document the extent and nature of academic related service activities. A survey of Connecticut institutions of higher education was conducted in the spring of 1993. Thirty institutions responded, and 682 usable cases (courses) were collected. The data concerning service sites, populations served, types of service given, and other characteristics constituted the dependent variables examined in relation to the independent variables of institutional characteristics. The institutional characteristics related to public four-year versus private four-year institutions of higher education, public two-year versus public four-year institutions of higher education, and public PhD-granting and public non-PhD-granting institutions of higher education.^ Using chi-square analysis, a total of 66 null hypotheses were examined. Each of the three sets of institutions were examined in relation to twenty-two service characteristics. Three service sites where students provided their service, six populations that received service from students, nine types of service provided by students, and four other service characteristics including payment for students, requirement for service in the course, requirement for service in the academic major, and mean hours of service per course were examined.^ For most of the 66 hypotheses, there were no significant differences between the various types of institutions. In those instances where rejection occurred, four possible explanations may be indicated. First, some rejections may be due to differences in departmental reporting. Second, there appear to be differences, especially in the two-year colleges, which relate to external environmental factors such as professional development programs. Third, requirements of external professional accrediting bodies may account for some differences, and fourth, institutional attitude may affect interpretations of questionnaire categories. ^