Title of Submission
Service-Learning in an Introductory Environmental Science Course: How Participation Impacts Course Content Knowledge and Agency Development
Curriculum and Instruction, EdD
Major Advisor Name
Type of Submission
Service-learning (SL) is a high-impact pedagogical strategy that has been shown to have both cognitive and affective benefits for students and has the potential to engage and involve a more demographically diverse spectrum of students into the field of STEM. However, research on the impacts of SL in STEM courses is limited, and therefore there is a great need to identify the specific outcomes linked to participation. In addition, faculty from STEM fields have been hesitant to incorporate SL into their curriculum due to perceptions that it lacks academic rigor. This purpose of this mixed-methods case study was to examine how participation in SL in an introductory environmental science course specifically impacted students’ knowledge of course content and development of agency, both at the projects and beyond. Students in the study participated in a range of different SL projects through the course. SL outcomes were compared within and between different types of SL projects to determine the overall impact of SL on course content and agency growth, as well as to more effectively assess the general characteristics of projects that fostered growth in these areas. The findings from this study showed that SL participation was very effective at increasing both course content knowledge and agency. Students with high course content knowledge growth also had exhibited high agency in the projects. The findings did not, however, show any significant differences in course content growth and agency across projects. This is likely due to the fact that all the SL projects in the study were well established and already using best practices in their projects. The results of this study contribute additional research on SL impacts in STEM to the field and also help guide best practices for the future.