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Megan Ingraham, Kate Figiel-Miller, Erin O’Keefe

Is Service-Learning Keeping Pace with Loyola’s Diversity?

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Loyola’s new strategic plan, the Ignatian Compass, embraces “an action-oriented commitment to greater diversity, equity, and inclusion” in the undergraduate curricula and enrollment of students. This complements the Center for Community Service and Justice’s (CCSJ) mission to “engage Loyola students and faculty to serve, learn, and lead for a more just and equitable world.” The connection among diversity, service, and education is exemplified in CCSJ’s Service-Learning program, in which students may participate in service that is connected to their courses’ themes and content. Service-learning is a high-impact practice in educational research and has been found to be useful as a tool for retention, multicultural education, community engagement, and learning outcomes for participating students.

This study focuses on Loyola’s increasing racial diversity across four years, and explores whether the Service-Learning program is also experiencing more racial diversity. Our analyses in recent semesters have intentionally examined whether the program is being accessed equitably by students of all racial backgrounds. For that reason, every semester we survey students enrolled in Service-Learning courses, whether or not they participated in the service aspect of the course. Among other questions, we ask students who did not participate in the service aspect why they did not participate, so that they have the opportunity to address concerns with the program or service model. This study focuses on analyzing racial diversity in enrollment in service-learning courses and participation in the service aspect of the courses, as well as reasons why students of color and white students choose not to participate in service. Results will help us ensure that service-learning is equally accessible to all of our students and explore program changes if it is not.


I: As Loyola’s population has become more diverse over the past four years, the population of students of color enrolled in Service-Learning courses has also increased.

II: As Loyola’s population has become more diverse, the population of students of color taking part in the service aspects of Service-Learning has also increased.
III: There will be a significant difference between reasons to not participate for white students and students of color.

Methods for this study include using the Service-Learning survey sent out every semester to students enrolled in Service-Learning courses, Service-Learning course rosters, and Loyola’s data books that describe the demographics of students enrolled at Loyola. We will analyze seven semesters of this information (FA13 to FA16) to track changes over time. These three sources provide us with information about the racial makeup of Loyola and Service-Learning courses, as well as with information from student surveys regarding reasons to not participate in service through Service-Learning. All three hypotheses are tested using the Chi-squared test, as we are analyzing differences in proportions across time for H1 and H2, and comparing differences in reasons to participate for the dichotomous variable of race (white students and students of color) for H3.

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