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CETL Fellows Scholarship

The Center for Community Engagement encourages and supports CETL Fellows to use their community-engaged teaching and learning as a gateway to scholarship. Below are some examples of the scholarship produced by CETL Fellows.


Dr. Lakusta, and Dr. Bragger are the recipients of a three-year, $474,000 National Science Foundation award to study the cognitive and developmental antecedents of servant leadership. Specifically, Drs. Bragger and Lakusta will investigate how experiences serving others and engaging in service-oriented leadership influence the development of a servant leadership style. Integrating established measures from organizational and cognitive psychology, they will collaborate with the Bonner Foundation as well as a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to longitudinally investigate (1) Theory of Mind (ToM; i.e., understanding another person’s mental states), (2) ability to recognize (i.e., perceive and categorize) the essential characteristics of servant leadership, and (3) specific first-hand experience in serving and/or leading. Dr. Lakusta and Dr. Bragger’s research has evolved from 1) Dr. Lakusta’s grant funded research in developmental psychology 2) Dr. Bragger’s history of engaging in service learning through collaborations with MSU’s Center for Community Engagement and MSU’s Bonner Leader program 3) a multi-year collaboration between Drs. Lakusta and Bragger team teaching undergraduate and graduate seminars on the development of service-based leadership and 4) Dr. Bragger’s experiences teaching and directing the interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Development and Civic Engagement.


Pen to Paper Writing Retreat

Three of our Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning Fellows, Lauren Dinour, Lesley Sylvan, and Ashley Ermer, were awarded scholarships from New Jersey Campus Compact and the Center for Community Engagement to participate in the ‘Pen to Paper’ Writing Retreat hosted by the Indiana Campus Compact. This retreat is focused on preparing scholars to publish their community-engaged work. Specifically, this retreat is designed to provide time, space, and resources to guide faculty, professional staff, graduate students, and community partners working on manuscripts related to service-learning and community-engagement.


Assessing Learning in Service-Learning Courses through Critical Reflection -Lenore Molee, Mary Henry, Valerie Sessa, & Erin Mckinney-Prupis

The purpose of this study was to describe and examine a model for assessing student learning through reflection in service-learning courses. This model utilized a course-embedded process to frame, facilitate, support, and assess students’ depth of learning and critical thinking. Student reflection products in two service-learning courses (a freshman course and an upper-level course) at a public university were examined at two times for depth of academic, personal, and civic learning and for level of critical thinking. Depth of learning and levels of critical thinking between freshmen and upperclassmen were compared. Results suggest that the model and associated rubrics were useful in documenting student learning. Students could identify, describe, and apply their learning. They had difficulty, however, evaluating their learning and thinking critically. There was some enhancement in depth of learning and critical thinking over time with upperclassmen achieving greater depth of learning and higher levels of critical thinking in some areas. Findings indicate that the model is a rigorous tool that can be used to document and assess student learning in service-learning courses.


Critical Reflections on Community-Campus Partnerships: Promise and Performance – Dana Natale, Kenneth Brook, and Todd Kelshaw

This article assesses a three-year Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) at Montclair State University (MSU) in Montclair, NJ. With the support of systematic qualitative analysis, it shifts attention from the execution of community-campus partnering to practitioners’ capacities for reflection. Grounded in Sharon Welch’s (2000) conception of “risk” as a preferable alternative to “control,” this essay explores the MSU COPC project using a framework that, we hope, provides an innovative means for creating, sustaining, and, fundamentally, understanding community-campus partnerships. The essay begins with an overview of the MSU COPC, then summarizes the research methods and conceptual framework for analysis, and finally focuses on one aspect of the MSU COPC that illustrates the utility of adopting an ethic of risk in the partnering process.


Charity and Project-Based Service Learning Models Increase Public Service Motivation Outcomes among Dietetic Students in a Community Nutrition Course – Lauren Dinour & Jennifer Kuscin

Objective: To determine whether dietetic students would report a change in their public service motivation (PSM) following a community nutrition service learning (SL) course, and whether the SL model (charity v . project) influences this change differently.

Design: Using a pretest–posttest, nonequivalent groups quasi-experimental design, this study compared students’ PSM at the beginning and end of a 15-week college-level course. PSM and four component dimensions (attraction to public policy, commitment to public interest, compassion and self-sacrifice) were measured via electronic survey using the PSM scale. Average PSM scores were compared between and within the charity and project groups using independent samples and paired sample t tests, respectively. ANCOVA assessed the effect of SL model on post-survey scores, controlling for pre-survey scores. Setting Public university in northeastern United States.

Participants: Dietetic students enrolled in six sections of the same undergraduate community nutrition SL course. Students were placed by section in either charity ( n 59) or project ( n 52) SL experiences and required to complete 14 h in this role.

Results: Mean PSM total scores increased between pre-survey and post-survey (3·50 v. 3·58; P = 0·001). Students reported small increases in three PSM dimensions: commitment to public interest, compassion and self-sacrifice (all P ≤ 0·01). Holding pre-scores constant, the charity group reported a higher attraction to public policy post-score, while the project group reported a higher self-sacrifice post-score (both P < 0·05).

Conclusions: Educators should consider adopting SL methods into curricular offerings to enhance students’ motivation for public service.


Service-Learning Pedagogy, Civic Engagement: Multiple Bidirectional Relationships in College Freshmen – Valerie Sessa, Stan Grabowski, & Aishwarya Shashidhar

This study begins to unravel the multiple bidirectional relationships between service-learning pedagogy and civic and academic engagement attitudes and behaviors. A quasi-experimental, nonequivalent comparison group pre- and post-test design was used with a sample of 300 first- semester freshmen participating in either a service-learning-based learning community or a learning community without service-learning. Participants completed a pre-test at the beginning of the semester measuring high school civic and academic engagement behaviors and attitudes and a post- test at the end of the semester measuring the same variables based on their first semester in college. Students with higher civic engagement attitudes and behaviors prior to college were more likely to take a service-learning course than students with lower civic engagement attitudes and behaviors. Students in service-learning were more likely to participate in community activities than students not participating in service-learning. Finally, within the service-learning groups, students who were more academically engaged had higher academic and civic attitudinal engagement at the end of the course. Students who were more civically engaged were more likely to see lower costs of helping to themselves; they did not change in terms of their beliefs about the community’s needs. This study replicates and extends previous research to demonstrate that there are multiple bidirectional relationships among these variables that need to be taken into account in research and practice.


How students learn in a service learning course: A quasi-experimental field study of generative learning – Valerie Sessa & Manuel London

Sessa and London’s (2005, 2006) continuous learning model was used to generate hypotheses suggesting that service-learning courses trigger student engagement in generative learning processes moderated by the students’ prior experience and that engagement in generative learning behaviors impact learning outcomes. 127 students in eight courses participated in a quasi-experimental, non-equivalent control group design with a pretest and two post-tests. Results partially support hypotheses. Implications for theory development, future research, and service learning pedagogy are discussed.


Evaluating a College Leadership Course: What Do Students Learn in a Leadership Course with a Service-Learning Component and How Deeply Do They Learn It? – Valerie Sessa, Cristina Matos, & Courtney Hopkins

The purpose of this study was to evaluate final projects in a freshman leadership course (combining grounding in leadership theories with a service-learning component) to determine what students learned about leadership, themselves as developing leaders, and leading in the civic community, and how deeply they learned these concepts. Students found situational leadership theories, team leadership theories, and leadership principles (Drath, 2001) most relevant to their experiences. Personally, students learned about themselves as individuals, leaders, team members, and community members. Civically, students learned how to apply leadership theories, work in teams, and about the community as a system. In terms of depth of learning, based on Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy, students were able to identify, describe, and apply concepts and to some extent analyze and synthesize them. These findings suggest that using service learning to help students learn about both the theory and practice of leadership is a viable alternative.


Lesson Plans: Positioning SLP Graduate Students to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Children Virtually – Lesley Sylvan


Implementing Service-Learning Projects for the First Time During the Pandemic: Two Instructors’ Inspiration Motivation and Goals – Lesley Sylvan & Robyn Becker

The focus of this article is the experiences of two instructors, one tenure track faculty member and one adjunct faculty member, who incorporated service-learning projects into their classes fo the first time during the 2020-2021 academic year. This paper describes how these instructors decided to incorporate service-learning projects into their classes, identify their goals and aspirations for these assignments, and describe how they identified and made initial contact with their community partners. This paper provides meaningful insight into two instructors’ first experiences with service-learning at a unique moment in time and explores what contextual factors supported and motivated them to incorporate service-learning into their teaching.