In 2007, the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) directed the field of service-learning by publishing the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. These standards form an effective guide to serve-learning practice. The next step in service-learning research calls to “test the standards and indicators as predictors of outcomes” (Billig & Weah, 2008, p. 12) and more closely delineate the degree to which each identified standard impacts service-learning outcomes. This study more closely examined the indicators of meaningful service by answering the following research questions: 1) What is the level of meaningful service in different service-learning projects a. Does gender impact these perceptions? 2) How do different levels of meaningful service impact the student regarding: civic skills, civic engagement' self-efficacy, academic engagement, and academic grades a. Does gender impact these outcomes? 3) How do student outcomes regarding civic skills, civic engagement, self-efficacy, academic engagement, and academic grades, compare between two schools, with one providing service-learning and the other school not providing service-learning a. Does gender impact these differences?
The study analyzed fifth through eighth grade students at two private schools in Southeastern Wisconsin, and researched the impact of lour different types of service-learning experiences on student civic skills, civic engagement, self-efficacy, academic engagement, and academic grades. Students rated the level of meaning they perceived in the service performed. Measures of meaning were correlated with student civic skills, civic engagement, self-efficacy, academic engagement, and academic grades. Correlations were measured using quantitative self-assessment and course grades.
The study found that the projects scored statistically significant differences in their levels of meaning. Overall, student perceptions of project meaning highly correlated with students' civic skills (r=.49), civic engagement (r=.55), self-efficacy (r=.41), and academic engagement (r=.55). However, the degree of correlation between meaningful service and the score on outcomes differed based on the grade level project. When comparing all males with all females at the treatment site, gender differences were present, but those findings were not always supported when gender comparisons were disaggregated by grade level. Additionally, the measured outcomes differed minimally between the treatment school and the comparison school, but differences varied based on grade level.