Making a Difference: Does Service-Learning Promote Civic Engagement in MPA Students?

Saundra J. Reinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This project was designed to explore whether service-learning promotes civic engagement for public administration graduate students. Although service-learning has been extensively studied in the undergraduate setting, no studies of it could be found in the graduate school setting. Moreover, no studies addressed whether service-learning actually promotes civic engagement in situations in which the field of study is inherently oriented toward civic engagement. It is possible that students in such fields may believe that their professional work is their civic engagement. Consequently, this study represents a first step in evaluating the connection between service-learning and civic engagement in graduate students. Three graduate courses in the Master of Public Administration program, Program Evaluation (Fall 2001), Research Methods (Fall 2001), and Quantitative Methods (Spring 2002), were involved. A survey instrument was used to assess levels of civic engagement along with qualitative assessments of students' reflections on their projects. The research demonstrated that service learning did not positively impact levels of civic engagement for these students and provided additional support for the literature on public service motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Affairs Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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