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Background: In response to critics’ charges that the liberal arts lack practical value, most colleges have incorporated service-learning in their curricula. Ideally, these service-learning activities not only benefit the community but also enhance the course’s (a) pedagogical effectiveness as well as the students’ (b) civic engagement and (c) professional development.

Purpose:This investigation uses a survey to measure the extent to which service-learning in community engagement courses at a liberal arts college achieved these three outcomes.

Methodology/Approach:Specifically, we parsed the influence of service hours and reflection activities on 740 students’ ratings of pedagogical effectiveness, civic engagement, and professional development.

Findings/Conclusions: The results suggest students in community engagement courses that included at least 15 service hours and three different types of reflections reported significantly greater outcome achievement than those with fewer hours or reflections. Moreover, class discussions and individual conversations were rated the most effective types of reflection activities.

Implications: Based on these findings, we provide some best practice suggestions for service hours and reflection activities in liberal arts community engagement courses


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Faculty Publications