Civic engagement is top of mind for me this week. Not only have I begun to delve into the extensive research and publications we’ve (HERI) produced on the topic, but I will also be attending my first Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) conference this week.
With a focus on “Educating for Personal and Social Responsibility” (http://www.aacu.org/meetings/psr11/Schedule.cfm), this should be a great forum to learn about new and innovative approaches on integrating civic learning and engagement into in the college experience.
Colleges can play such an important role in helping students become active participants in society and responsible citizens, not only during their time in college but throughout their lives.
But not all of them have the tools to build supportive institutional policies to expand students’ scope of civic learning. We’ve found that colleges that offer students opportunities to engage in civic-minded, community-based and service learning activities are able to see the connections between institutional practices and student educational outcomes.
And that’s where CIRP surveys come into play.
Drawing upon four national databases and five survey instruments (the Freshman Survey, Your First College Year Survey, the College Senior Survey, the Diverse Learning Environments Survey and the HERI Faculty Survey) CIRP surveys are the only longitudinal assessments that provide valuable insight like this:
CIRP Surveys Key Findings:
- Participating in service learning and leadership training leads to greater gains in the skills appropriate for working in a diverse society
- The amount and quality of faculty interaction is a strong predictor in increasing students’ habits of mind
- Students’ negative cross-racial interactions are linked to lower civic awareness
- Student participation in a range of civic-related activities during college contributes to self-reported growth, such as higher civic awareness
- The earlier students engage in civic activities, the more likely they will engage as complex thinkers and act as responsible citizens
Colleges that make a commitment to understanding student outcomes of personal and civic responsibility are one step closer to preparing graduates for living and working in the 21st century.