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Research Articles

Vol 24 No 1

The Impact of Service-Learning on Undergraduate Awareness and Knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorder

January 28, 2020
May 1, 2020


As the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rises and individuals with ASD seek community inclusion, there is a great need for community awareness and knowledge of ASD. The likelihood that college graduates will be working with and living alongside individuals with ASD is high given the current prevalence rates of 1 in 59 children or youth with ASD. This study aimed to address this need using service-learning pedagogy as a means of increasing undergraduate students’ awareness, knowledge, and perception of ASD. Two cohorts of undergraduate students (N= 44) enrolled in a course which required 30 hours of hands-on community service with individuals with ASD in addition to three hours per week of in-class participation. Based on student responses to a pre- and post- course survey as well as their open-ended case study responses, service-learning pedagogy has the potential to improve undergraduate student awareness, knowledge, and acceptance of ASD. Lessons learned and recommendations for future research are discussed.