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Problem: Many universities offer service-learning classes that provide opportunities for students and community partners to work together on semester-long projects. Researchers have been especially interested in the benefits students receive in service-learning classes, and those benefits have been well recognized (Eyler, Giles, Stenson, & Gray, 2001). However, the benefits to community partners have been assumed but seldom explored empirically (Bringle & Steinberg, 2010; Cruz & Giles, 2000; Dorado & Giles, 2004). Research Questions: How beneficial were the service-learning projects to the community partners? What were the community partners’ experiences working with the students? Research Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive design was used to investigate the uses and benefits of 30 community partners from five different business-related, project-based, cooperative, service-learning university classes. Results: The results indicated that community partners used and benefited from working with students in such classes. More than 95% of the community partners implemented at least some of what the students created or recommended, and 39% of the community partners said that what the students provided was completely new information, insights, or strategies that they had not yet considered or done. Another key finding was that 80% of the community partners stated that the projects made a “pretty big” to an “extremely large” impact on their organization. These results suggest that working with the business-related, project-based, cooperative, service-learning university classes had an overall positive impact on the community partners.


This document was originally published in The Journal of Research in Business Education by Delta Pi Epsilon National Office. Copyright restrictions may apply.