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Citation:Scales, P. C., Blyth, D. A., & Berkas, T. H. (2000). The effects of service-learning on middle school studentsÕ social responsibility and academic success. Journal of Early Adolescence, 20(3), 332-358.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the result of service learning on middle school studentsÕ social responsibility and academic success. The authors found that service learning students maintained their sense of concern for othersÕ welfare and talked more with parents about school, as compared with control group students. Students with more than 30 hours of service learning improved their sense of efficacy in helping others. Students who reported doing high levels of reflection as part of their service learning experience additionally improved in their pursuit of good grades, maintained their perception that school provides personal development opportunities, and were more committed to their classwork than other students. No significant outcomes of service learning were observed on school engagement, perceived scholastic competence, intellectual achievement responsibility, grade point average, or conduct at school. Seventy schools with service learning programs were screened for participation in the study, with three schools ultimately selected, based on screening information, interviews, and site visits. Within each school, students were randomly assigned to either service learning or non-service learning groups, to provide in-school comparisons. A total of 1,153 students participated in the study. A series of ANCOVAs were conducted to compare the groups. This study suggests a number of variables related to school success that might be impacted by service learning projects. The definition of these variables may be useful to practitioners wanting to evaluate the various impacts of their service learning programs. The authors suggest several limitations of the studyƐfirst Òthe service learning programs studied appeared to be somewhat better than average but not decidedly high qualityÓ and varied in content. Also, students in this study were not typical of the general population of students and there was some contamination between the study and control groups because of previous experiences with service learning.

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