Communication professor David Painter and former assistant director of Rollins’ Center for Leadership & Community Engagement Courtney Howell have published an article in The Journal of Experiential Education titled “Community Engagement in the Liberal Arts: How Service Hours and Reflections Influence Course Value.” The study described in the article analyzes findings from a survey of 740 Rollins students to determine the impact of community engagement courses over students’ collegiate experience.
In addition to community benefit, the study looked at how community engagement courses enhance a course’s pedagogical effectiveness, students’ civic engagement, and professional development. The results of the study suggest students in community engagement courses that include at least 15 service hours and three different types of reflections reported significantly greater outcome achievement than those with fewer hours or reflections. Moreover, class discussions and individual conversations were rated the most effective types of reflection activities. Based on these findings, Painter and Howell conclude by providing some best-practice suggestions for service hours and reflection activities in liberal arts community engagement courses.