Service Learning Programs with Juvenile Offenders

  •  Mark Dickerson    
  •  Randy Fall    
  •  Roxanne Helm-Stevens    


While prior research on service-learning has established the benefits for participating college and university students, more recent research has attempted to explore the value of service-learning projects for the recipients of the service-learning projects, typically public-school students. This study endeavors to extend this research to a special subset of this population by examining the outcome of a 6-week service-learning project in an alternative educational setting for juvenile offenders. This service-learning project involved teams of four to five university business school students presenting a life skills curriculum to two classrooms of students who have been adjudicated through the juvenile courts. We administered an optional questionnaire to all participating students as a pretest and posttest, asking about their knowledge and skills in career readiness. We found statistically significant increases in ratings from pretest to posttest. Analyzed individually, all 28 items showed statistically significant improvements from pretest to posttest. Scales created from the items were also statistically significant, with the greatest change in items measuring Goals. We interpret these findings as an indication that adjudicated youth have a substantial need and interest in career information and training.

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