Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Yasha Becton

Abstract

At Southern College (pseudonym), a liberal arts college in South Carolina, students were enrolled in an introductory civic engagement course. The purpose of this action research study was to examine how an introductory civic engagement course influenced students’ perspectives on civic engagement. Additionally, the research focused on how a civic engagement course prepared students to engage in service learning. The dissertation sought to explore how peer conversations, course readings, and direct instruction would impact students’ attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives toward civic engagement. The study was implemented over a 14-week period. The researcher collected and analyzed data using a mixed methods triangulation approach. The quantitative data consisted of a pre-questionnaire and post-questionnaire. The questionnaires benchmarked students’ learning, attitudes, and beliefs before and after the study. The results for the pre-questionnaire and post- questionnaire did not show significant difference. The qualitative data of the study included a Service Learning Project and interviews. The results from the Service Learning Project and interviews suggest direct instructional practices, peer conversations, and active student engagement influenced participants’ learning outcomes. The implications for future practices discussed educators using pre- and post-questionnaires to gauge students learning. Additionally, the researcher suggested teachers include civic engagement and service learning into their curricula, instructional activities, and discussions. The researcher concluded their recommendations by discussing the importance of schools providing funding for civic engagement courses.

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