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Research Articles

Vol. 19 No. 1

Reflections Upon Community Engagement: Service-Learning and Its Effect on Political Participation After College

March 20, 2015


This article addresses the gap in our understanding of service-learning and its enduring influence on political engagement by analyzing the results of an alumni survey. Chi-square tests were performed to examine the relationship between 5 curricular and cocurricular undergraduate experiences and 10 types of political engagement after graduating. Analysis demonstrated that organizational involvement, campus leadership, and volunteering had limited influence, whereas service-learning had the greatest impact of the factors studied on political participation after college. Service-learning significantly affected behaviors such as voting and donating money to political candidates as well as forms of political activity that more explicitly reflect social change activism such as social movement organization membership and participation in protests. Notably, classes with merely a service add-on showed no positive effect on any political behaviors under examination. This finding stresses how reflection can heighten awareness and deepen knowledge about community needs and facilitate the attitudinal and identity development that promote lasting activism.