Committee Chair

Crawford, Elizabeth K.

Committee Member

Rausch, David W.; Banks, Steven R.; Doolittle, Amy L.


School of Professional Studies


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Civic education has historically been one of the fundamental goals of U.S. higher education. However, the importance placed on teaching civic responsibility in this environment declined during the 20th century. Civic education experienced a resurgence in the 1980s, and service-learning pedagogy and other forms of community-based learning became increasingly popular. As a result, a number of high schools and institutions of higher education have implemented mandatory service programs aimed at encouraging students’ long-term engagement in community and civic activities. However, there is a dearth of research on mandatory service programs and the efficacy of requiring students to participate in community service. This study examined a mandatory service program implemented at a U.S. higher education institution using a longitudinal, mixed methods study of the service-learning and community service experiences of one cohort. Potential relationships were investigated between the number of service hours completed and/or service-learning courses taken and respondents’ scores on a survey. Respondents completed the survey at three different data points during a 4-year enrollment period at the institution. Examined variables included gender, work location and hours, religious affiliation, voting habits, knowledge of the service requirement, prior service, and overall satisfaction with the institution’s service program. Historical focus group data were also mined to explore potential connections between students’ service experiences and views on civic responsibility. This study responded to the need for more longitudinal studies on the outcomes of college student service activities and for more research on mandatory service programs. It also adds to the body of knowledge on service-learning pedagogy and volunteerism. The findings indicated that implementing a graduation service requirement and service-learning curriculum was not effective in altering students’ perceptions of civic responsibility. However, the number of service hours completed and the number of service-learning courses taken in the first year were indicators of future service activities. Additionally, although a specific activity that increased students’ perceptions of civic responsibility was not identified, the cohort’s aggregate score improved over the course of the study. Data from subsequent cohorts should be analyzed, as these findings have policy and programmatic implications for the institution included in this study.


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Education, Higher -- Social aspects -- United States; Experiential learning -- United States; Service learning -- United States


Service; Civic responsibility; Volunteerism; Service-learning

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiii, 100 leaves