The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning

Stack of books with colorful covers, bottom edges showing

Compiled by Kathryn Van Zanen & Marisol Fila, Graduate Academic Liaisons

The books and articles collected below represent the breadth of scholarship on what students learn from their service-learning and community engagement experiences. These texts bridge the theoretical and practical; the studies take both quantitative and qualitative approaches to assessment. We’ve separated general books and peer-reviewed research, below, from scholarship, tools, and institutional models that can support assessment of student learning at the department, school, or campus level. 

We offer additional tools and resources for assessing student learning here. We would be glad to work with you to incorporate any of these resources into your community-engaged efforts.

On Classroom Assessment

  • Ash, S.L., Clayton, P.H., & Atkinson, M.P. (2005). Integrating reflection and assessment to capture and improve student learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 11(2), 49-60.
    • This paper discusses the uses of reflection products as data sources to assess and improve both individual student learning and program-wide approaches to reflection. The authors argue that intentionally linking the assessment of student learning outcomes of service-learning with reflection allows each to inform and reinforce the other. 
  • Bringle, R. G., Phillips, M. A., & Hudson, M. (2004). The measure of service learning: research scales to assess student experiences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 
    • This book  is a resource for program evaluators and researchers who want to inform the practice of service learning. It advocates the use of multiple-item scales, presents the rationale for their use, and explains how readers can evaluate them for reliability and validity.
  • Cook, L. & Sharrer, E. (2006).  Assessing Learning in Community Service Learning: A Social Approach. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 13(1), 44-55. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.3239521.0013.104
    • The authors argue for a way of thinking about assessment that considers both process and outcome and in communication with all the stakeholders (the students, the community partners, the instructors, etc).  The paper additionally presents methods of assessing the social dimension of learning, such as interviews and focus groups, the analysis of journal assignments, and the observation of videotaped interactions.
  • Clayton, P.H., Bringle, R.G. & Hatcher, J.A. (Eds.) (2012). Research on service learning: Conceptual frameworks and assessment, Vol. 2A: Students and faculty. Stylus.
    • The authors bring theoretical perspectives from a wide variety of disciplines to critically review past research on service learning, describe assessment methods and instruments, develop future research agendas, and consider implications of theory-based research for enhanced practice. The chapters on research related to students focus on cognitive processes, academic learning, civic learning, personal development, and intercultural competence. 
  • Fitch, P. & Steink, P. (2007). “Assessing Service-Learning.” Research and Practice in Assessment, 2, 24-29. 
    • This article reviews a selection of tools available for assessing service learning, including cognitive learning scales, written essays and protocols, and interviews, and emphasizes the role of service learning assessment in informing and transforming current assessment debates. 
  • Gelmon, S. B., Holland, B. A., & Spring, A. (2018). Assessing service-learning and civic engagement: Principles and techniques. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
    • An academic book (excerpt linked here) that offers an in-depth look at assessment principles, methods, and strategies for evaluating student and community impact. The section on “Why Assess the Impact of Service-Learning on Students?” features questions to tease out the component skills and attitudes instructors might assess, drawing from decades of research on assessment and service-learning.
  • Hatcher, J.A., Bringle, R.G., & Hahn, T.W. (2017). Research on Student Civic Outcomes in Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Methods. Stylus.
    • This edited volume addresses the impact of service-learning courses on student civic outcomes. It focuses on research related to the potential for curricular service-learning to generate student civic outcomes and does so by reviewing previous studies, theoretical frameworks, and a variety of methods of inquiry. Of particular interest would be part three, in which the authors describe designs and methods that can be utilized to improve research on student civic outcomes in service-learning. 
    • Review Essay here.
  • Holsapple, M. (2012). Service-learning and student diversity outcomes: Existing evidence and directions for future research. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 18(2), 5-18. 
    • This study presents a critical review of 55 studies of the impact of service-learning participation on students' diversity outcomes, identifying six diversity-related outcomes that emerge from these studies: tolerance of difference, stereotype confrontation, recognition of universality, knowledge about the served population, interactions across difference, and belief in the value of diversity. 
  • Meredith, G.R.F., Patchen, A.K, and Baker, A.Z. (2020). Community Engaged Teaching, Research and Practice: A Catalyst for Public Health Improvement. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 26(2), 75-100. 
    • This case study describes community-engaged learning initiatives in Cornell University’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Program. The new three course sequence described here was designed with community collaborators and focused on needs assessment, intervention planning, and monitoring and evaluation for improvement. The article describes a range of assessment strategies for assessing student competence development in their community-engaged courses, including collaboratively-produced assignments, community partner input, rubric-led evaluation, and student self-assessment through reflection journals, discussions, and a summative portfolio.
  • Peterson, T.H. (2018). Critical Learning, Radical Healing, and Community Engagement. Palgrave Macmillan.
    • The first four chapters of the book focus on theories of community engagement, which include key concepts and activities. This part of the book also includes “critical reflection activities” for the reader, some of which could also be useful for student journaling or group activities. The latter part of the book, which focuses on praxis, includes syllabi, activities, community partnership and learning outcomes, assessment, and examples of institutional-level changes that may foster transformative community engagement initiatives. It also offers a series of useful activities that may be aligned with each stage of a four-step model drawn from the work of Bryan Stevenson (founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the bestselling memoir Just Mercy) that describes how to engage in both individual and collective transformation of injustice. This section also includes excerpts from student reflections, so that readers can see how students understood and responded to the experiences.
    • Review Essay here
  • Shadowen , N.L., Chieffo , L.P., & Guerra , N.G. (2015). The Global Engagement Measurement Scale (GEMS): A New Scale for Assessing the Impact of Education Abroad and Campus Internationalization. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 26(1), 231-247. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v26i1.368
    • The paper describes the development and validation of a new instrument to measure the non-academic impact of education abroad, the Global Engagement Measurement Scale (GEMS).The GEMS is a 37-item instrument containing scales for four specific constructs: a) cultural engagement; b) ambiguity tolerance; c) knowledge of the host site; and d) diversity openness. The GEMS instrument is brief and easy to administer, publically available, and includes important constructs for assessing the impact of education abroad. Additionally, the GEMS could be used to assess campus internationalization efforts with domestic and international students.
  • Stemler, S., Imada, T., & Sorkin, C. (2014). Development and Validation of the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS): A Tool for Measuring the Impact of Study Abroad Experiences. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 24(1), 25-58. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v24i1.335
    • This paper outlines the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS), which uses a situational judgment testing approach to measure the development of intercultural competence among study abroad participants. The study found that the WICS was capable of detecting changes in the development of intercultural competence over time in a way that none of the other validation measures were, and also found that the amount of time spent speaking the local language and the number of different situations experienced were strong predictors of the development of intercultural competence. 
  • Tonkin, H., & Quiroga, D. (2004). A Qualitative Approach to the Assessment of International Service-Learning. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10(1), 131-150. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v10i1.138
    • This qualitative study examines the goals and attitudes of student participants in an international service-learning program, finding that students describe the program as transformational and specifically articulate its impact on their career choices, perspective on American cultural values, norms, and beliefs, as well as their “sense of informed leadership.” The study also models program assessment with a section on how the program under examination might be improved.
  • Whitley, M. A. (2014). A draft conceptual framework of relevant theories to inform future rigorous research on student service-learning outcomes. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 20(2), 19-40. 
    • The purpose of this article is to present a draft conceptual framework of relevant theories that can inform the study of service-learning effects on students. This proposed conceptual framework draws from theories, theory-based models and frameworks, and theory-based research. 

On Community-Engaged Learning's Impact on Students

[Most recent resources are listed first]
  • Moely, B.E. and Ilustre, V. (2019). Later Correlates of Required Public Service Participation during College. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 25(1), 30-42.
    • How is required public service during college related to later civic behavior? Based on a survey of 359 alumni two years after graduation, this paper describes graduates’ civic attitudes and behaviors: “Alumni who had participated in co-curricular service in college reported higher levels of public service as alumni, were positive about the impacts of such service, and ranked more highly on measures of civic attitudes, knowledge, and skills.”
  • Song, W., Furco, A., Lopez, I., and Maruyama, G. (2017). Examining the Relationship between Service-Learning Participation and the Educational Success of Underrepresented Students. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 24(1), 23-37.
    • This study found that service-learning participation was positively related to underrepresented students’ cumulative GPA, retention, and graduation. It goes on to address unevenness in service-learning effects across the colleges in the studied institution and name practices that promote service-learning participants’ educational success.
  • Yue, H. and Hart, S.M. (2017). Service-Learning and Graduation: Evidence from Event History Analysis. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning 23(2), 24-41.
    • This study examines a longitudinal data set of 31,000+ undergraduates enrolled at the same large, public university from 2002-2009, finding that “service-learning participation had a significant positive relationship with graduation for both first-time freshmen and new undergraduate transfers.”
  • Blakey, J.M, Theriot, S., Cazzell, M., and Sattler, M. (2015). Is Service-Learning Worth It?: A Mixed-Methods Study of Faculty’s Service-Learning Experiences. International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement 3(1).
    • Qualitative analysis of faculty implementing service-learning in their courses indicates that faculty felt they learned alongside students, and reported that the work prompted them to grow their pedagogical practice and become “better, more meaningful teachers.”  
  • Warren, J. L. (2012). Does Service-learning Increase Student Learning? A meta-analysis. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 18 (2) 56-61. 
    • This meta-analysis examines the results of 11 studies and concludes that service-learning does increase learning, regardless of how that learning is measured.
  • Cress, C.M. Burack, C. Giles, D., Elkins, J. & Stevens, M. (2010). A promising connection: Increasing college access and success through civic engagement. Boston: Campus Compact.  
    • This Campus Compact report advocates using the positive impacts of service-learning to increase college success, particularly for students with high barriers to success. The executive summary summarizes the report’s project; additional sections review relevant research for K-12 and higher education before outlining recommendations for campus leaders.
  • Astin, A.W., Vogelgesang, L.J., Ikeda, E.K.,and Yee, J.A. (2000). How Service Learning Affects Students. Higher Education. 144.
    • A longitudinal study of 22,000+ undergraduates (links to 7-page summary) found service-learning had positive impacts on academic performance, values, self- efficacy, leadership, choice of a service career, and plans to participate in service after college. The study also found that course-based service-learning was particularly powerful because students were more likely to process and reflect on their service-learning experience.
  • Eyler, J., & Giles, D. (1999). Where’s the learning in service-learning? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
    • A landmark text in the study of service-learning and its impacts; Eyler & Giles present extensive data from two national research projects, describe positive impacts of service-learning (chapters address specific outcomes, e.g., “critical thinking” and “citizenship”) and indicate how instructors, programs, and institutions can enhance them. (A review of the book is available here).
  • Eyler, J., Giles, Jr., D.E., & Braxton, J. (1997). The Impact of Service-Learning on College Students. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 4(1), 5-15.
    • This study describes characteristics of the students who choose to enroll in Service Learning (attitudes, skills, values, and understanding about social issues) and the additional impact the service-learning experience has on these outcomes over a semester.

On Institutional Assessment of Student Learning (Department, School or Campus Level)

  • Britner, P. (2012).Bringing public engagement into an academic plan and its assessment metrics. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 16(4), 61-77.
    • This article describes how public engagement was incorporated into a research  university’s  current  Academic  Plan,  how the public engagement metrics were selected and adopted, and how those processes led to subsequent strategic planning.   
  • Driscoll, A., Holland, B., Gelmon, S., & Kerrigan, S. (1996). An assessment model for service-learning: Comprehensive case studies of impact on faculty, students, community, and institution. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 3(1), 66–71.
    • This article describes a model of assessment developed at Portland State University that aims to measure the impact of service learning on students, faculty, the community and the institution. It describes quantitative and qualitative measures taken in order to determine the most effective and practical tools to measure service learning impact and to provide feedback for continuous improvement of practice.
  • Hatcher, J.A., Bringle, R.G., & Hahn, T.W. (2017). Research on Student Civic Outcomes in Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Methods. Stylus. 
    • Review Essay here.
    • This edited volume Research on Student Civic Outcomes in Service Learning: Conceptual Frameworks and Methods focuses on the impact of service-learning courses on student civic outcomes. It focuses on research related to the potential for curricular service-learning to generate student civic outcomes and does so by reviewing previous studies, theoretical frameworks, and a variety of methods of inquiry. Of particular interest would be part three, in which the authors describe designs and methods that can be utilized to improve research on student civic outcomes in service-learning. 
  • Peterson, T.H. (2018). Critical Learning, Radical Healing, and Community Engagement. Palgrave Macmillan.
    • Review Essay here
    • The first four chapters of the book focus on theories of community engagement, which include key concepts and activities. This part of the book also includes “critical reflection activities” for the reader, some of which could also be useful for student journaling or group activities. The latter part of the book, which focuses on praxis, includes syllabi, activities, community partnership and learning outcomes, assessment, and examples of institutional-level changes that may foster transformative community engagement initiatives. It also offers a series of useful activities that may be aligned with each stage of a four-step model drawn from the work of Bryan Stevenson (founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the bestselling memoir Just Mercy) that describes how to engage in both individual and collective transformation of injustice. This section also includes excerpts from student reflections, so that readers can see how students understood and responded to the experiences.
  • Rhodes, T. (2010). Assessing outcomes and improving achievement: Tips and tools for using rubrics. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

    • Cross-campus VALUE Rubrics focusing on 16 undergraduate learning goals, including civic engagement, ethical reasoning, information literacy, and problem solving. The rubrics are intended for big picture evaluation, rather than for grading; AACU recommends “translating” them into local parlance for your course, department, or campus.

  • Strait, J., & Lima, M. (Eds.). (2009). The future of service-learning: New solutions for sustaining and improving practice. Sterling, VA: Stylus. Summary
    • The goal of this book is to engage with questions about the practice of service learning, institutional sustainability and how globalization is impacting service learning. Divided into three thematic parts, it covers institutional and administrative issues, service learning as a springboard for research; and presents new practices that address emerging challenges and changing student populations. Further chapters offer a new blueprint for funding to achieve sustainability; examples of international service learning from a European perspective; a case study and framework for using on-line formats to extend the reach of a program; raise the urgent issue of the experiences and contributions of underrepresented students; and present the rationale and processes for developing effective student-led evaluation of programs. 
    • See table of contents here.

Tools to Support Institutionalizing Community-Engaged Learning