Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Cheryl Keen

Abstract

Community college graduation rates are low, and community colleges have been tasked with producing more graduates to meet workforce needs. Research has determined that engaged students remain at their institutions and complete their degrees. Service learning has been identified as a high-impact practice that engages students with their learning and builds connections between students and campus personnel. The majority of service-learning research, having been conducted with 4-year colleges and universities, may have limited applicability to the community college population. This qualitative descriptive case study describes how institutionalized service learning on 1 community college campus is structured, supported, and operated. The study used the framework of student success, service learning, and institutionalization to determine how the college provided resources and opportunities for service learning. Participants for the study were selected using mixed purposeful sampling to identify individuals recently involved with service learning at the college; data came from document reviews, campus and Internet observations, college staff interviews, and student group online discussions. Data were collected and analyzed using a spiraling technique. Findings indicated that the college's curricular and cocurricular service-learning activities were integrated throughout the campus in many departments and with different groups. While the service-learning coordinators made distinctions between curricular and cocurricular service learning, student participants did not make such distinctions. Students in this study were engaged with their service learning. These findings have applicability for all community college educators, demonstrating that institutionalized community college service learning might lead to greater retention through graduation.