How Engaged Are Morgan State University Students? A Focus On Service Learning
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One of the key components of Morgan State University's mission is to promote an active relationship between its University and Baltimore city communities by integrating student skills with the community's needs. As such, the University has established both formal curricular and informal organizational structures through which to implement community engagement activities. According to Denton (1997), service learning as part of formal academic course offerings evolved from the work of John Dewey who provided the theoretical framework for both experiential education and youth service. He envisioned that the school itself shall be made a genuine place to assist students in transforming theoretical principles and conceptual frameworks based on the classroom into practical, tangible calls to action (Denton, 1997). The objective of this paper is to report the extent of student engagement and students' perceptions of their experiences within the institution which contributed to improving their knowledge, skills, and personal development. Participants were 733 students who completed the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) between 2004 and 2007. Participants' mean age was 23 years. There were twice as many female participants as male participants. Almost half were seniors. Our analysis revealed seniors to be more engaged in all measures of formal and informal activities as compared to firstyear students. In regards to gender, our results counter previous research by Flemings (1984) which reported gender gaps at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by illustrating that, females in MSU enjoy an equally fulfilling experience in both formal and informal engagements as their male counterparts. While there are no significant differences between males and females in how the institution contributed to their knowledge and skills, seniors reported their experience at the institution to have significantly contributed to their skills and personal development. In summary, our analyses show that the University provides equal opportunities to all students in terms of educational practices and access to resources. The fact that there exist statistically significant differences between first-years and seniors is an indication that the University is committed to transforming and ensuring student growth throughout the matriculation period.