Given an Opportunity to Reach Out: Heterogeneous Participation in Optional Service-Learning Projects

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Service learning in the local community is a useful and effective pedagogical technique and learning process for students and instructors. We offered an integrated service-learning option in a variety of sociology courses and assessed socio-demographic and other student characteristics to explore differences between participants and nonparticipants. We surveyed undergraduates (N = 413) from across the academic spectrum and enrolled in sociology courses at a large state university. The results contradict previous findings: we found heterogeneous participation in the service-learning project; no statistical association between prior and current service; commuter status and employment appear to influence student decisions to opt; and non-social science majors are more likely to participate than social science majors. Confirming previous studies, males are less likely to participate than females. Research in sociology shows strong support for service learning in passing on sociology. Results suggest students' other life demands should be taken into account when implementing a service-learning option.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Teaching Sociology, v. 28, issue 3, p. 206-219