Public Affairs

Study Supports Benefits of Community Service Learning for CSU Students

Fresno state students volunteering with children.
A recent study by Fresno State reveals service learning has a positive impact
on students' graduation, personal and job skill development

October 14, 2009

The Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning (IRAP) at California State University, Fresno, recently released new data to support the positive effects service learning (SL) has on its students.  The report "Does Service Learning Help Students Succeed?  Assessing the Effects of Service Learning at California State University, Fresno" looked at students enrolled in service-learning classes at Fresno State during five different semesters. Among other things, the study examined the impact service learning (SL) has on persistence, graduation rates, time to degree, personal development and job related skill development. A few of the key findings include:

  • Service-learning freshmen’s one-year persistence rate after taking (a service-learning) class is higher than for non-service learning freshmen enrolled during that same semester.
  • Freshmen who took a service learning class had higher four and five-year  graduation rates than non-service learning freshmen.
  • Data from the 2007 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Fresno State’s IRAP demonstrates that seniors who had taken a service learning class were more likely to report a greater contribution to the welfare of the community and better understanding of people from other racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Data also indicates service learning freshmen reported a higher level of job related knowledge, skills attainment and more development of a personal code of values and ethics than non-service learning freshmen.

The study supports existing literature regarding the beneficial influence service learning has on college students.  Specifically, the study shows that service learning does have a positive impact on Fresno State students' persistence, graduation, personal and job skill development.