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Benefits of Service-Learning on Students’ Achievement and Degree Attainment Outcomes: An Investigation of Potential Differential Effects for Low-Income and First-Generation Students

Hufnagle et al. / Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement / Sep 28, 2023

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Previous researchers have demonstrated a positive association between enrolling in service-learning courses and achievement and graduation outcomes for college students. Less is known about whether results associated with service-learning hold for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Using propensity score matching, we explored whether enrollment in service-learning courses is related to 4-year retention and graduation outcomes of students who are low-income, first-generation college attendees, and who are both low-income and first-generation college attendees. We found positive relationships of service-learning course enrollment with higher achievement and higher odds of retention for tudents in the low-income category and the first-generation category. We also found a positive relationship between service-learning course enrollment and persistence for students who were both low-income and first-generation status. Implications of service-learning as a potential way of supporting the success of first-generation and low-income students are discussed