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Service-Learning Affects Student Achievement

Summary of research by Shelly BilligRMC Research, October 2001

We have information that service-learning is connected to greater cognitive complexity

(Eyler and Giles, 2000)

  • Students in over half of the high-quality service-learning schools studied showed moderate to strong positive gains on student achievement tests in language arts and/or reading, engagement in school, sense of educational accomplishment, and homework completion (Weiler,, 1998);
  • Service-learning participation was associated with higher scores on the state test of basic skills (Anderson, Kinsley, Negroni, and Price, 1991) (Massachusetts) and higher grades (Shumer, 1994; Shaffer, 1993; Dean and Murdock, 1992; O'Bannon, 1999) (lots of sites);
  • Students who participated in service-learning showed higher standardized test scores Indiana's state assessment in third and eighth grade math and English than those who did not participate (Civic Literacy Project, 2000); Elementary school students who participated in service-learning scored higher on state tests that measure reading for information and mathematics than non-participating students (Akujobi and Simmons, 1997)–This was Michigan;
  • 83% of schools with service-learning programs reported that grade point averages of participating service-learning students improved 76% of the time (Follman, 1999)—Florida;
  • Middle and high school students who participated in service-learning tutoring programs increased their grade point averages and test scores in reading/language arts and math and were less likely to drop out of school–Texas, South Carolina (Supik, 1996; Rolzinski; 1990; Duckenfield and Swanson, 1992);
  • Students who engaged in service-learning came to class on time more often, completed more classroom tasks, and took the initiative to ask questions more often (Loesch-Griffin,, 1995) –California;
  • Elementary and middle school students who participated in service-learning had improved problem-solving skills and increased interest in academics (Stephens, 1995). – Students who participate in service-learning are more engaged in their studies and more motivated to learn.
  • Students at all levels felt that they learned more in service-learning classes than other classes (Weiler, et. al., 1998; Berkas, 1997).  

Prepared for October 22, 2001 Network Meeting by Stan Potts.
Information supplied by Shelly H. Billig, Ph.D.


For questions about this information, contact Victoria Rydberg (608) 266-0419