Number of Service Learning Courses
Over the last 17 years, the Service Learning Academy has supported over 2,000 service learning courses at UNO. Since 2012, over 150 service learning courses have been offered each academic year. Over time, positive growth has occurred as more and more service learning courses are offered and supported.
There are two types of service learning projects that can take place within a service learning course: P-16 and traditional. P-16 initiative projects include a UNO course, community partners, and a P-12 school. Traditional projects include a UNO course and a community partner. Over the last 3 years, the number of P-16 projects has remained consistent, while the number of traditional projects has steadily increased.
Service Learning Courses by Academic College
During the 2018-2019 academic year, the Service Learning Academy supported 208 service learning courses. These courses occurred throughout various departments at UNO. The majority of the courses and projects occurred in the Arts & Sciences College (34%) and the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (21%). The Service Learning Academy (SLA) has seen an increase in the amount of service learning courses and projects offered within the STEAM disciplines, including science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, however in the future SLA will focus on encouraging even more service learning within these disciplines.
Number of Service Learning Students
Over time, nearly 40,000 UNO students have participated in service learning courses. From 2005 to 2010, on average, 1,500 UNO students completed a service learning course each year. In the last five academic years, on average, 3,356 UNO students completed a service learning course each year.
Additionally, over 30,300 P-12 students from the Omaha metro area have participated in service learning projects since 2010. From 2010 to 2012, an average of 1,857 P-12 students engaged in service learning, while in the last two academic years, the average number of P-12 students was 2,778. This demonstrates growth in the P-16 initiative and the number of P-12 students being reached.
Project Hours and Impact
During the 2018-19 academic year, the Service Learning Academy supported 87 P-16 initiative service learning projects. Each project involved a collaboration between a P-12 classroom, a UNO course, and a community partner. Collectively, UNO and P-12 students in these projects engaged in over 52,900 hours of service learning. Together, these 87 projects impacted nearly 647,000 individuals either directly or indirectly!
UNO students who participate in service learning courses are offered the opportunity to participate in a research study focused on the impact of service learning. Some of the results are shared below. Along with documenting the impact of service learning, the data collected from this research is used to:
- Develop more effective service learning programming, training, and support
- Inform outreach to school and nonprofit partners in the Omaha community
- Encourage faculty participation and promote scholarship
Our research has broken down civic engagement into two categories: knowledge of the community and engagement in the community. UNO students were surveyed to assess these areas before and after their service learning experience.
Knowledge of the Community
During the 2018-2019 academic year, UNO students who completed the survey showed a statistically significant increase in their knowledge of and engagement in the community as described by the following statements: I feel responsible for my community; I am involved in a structured volunteer position(s) in my community.
Engagement in the Community
During the same timeframe, UNO students who completed the survey also showed a statistically significant increase in their engagement in the community as described by the following statements: I am involved in meaningful activities at my school or in my community. I know how to be involved in my community. I often talk about my community as being a great place to live. I feel strongly attached to the community I live in.
Service learning also has a positive impact on student academic engagement. In 2018-2019, over 93% of UNO students who were surveyed reporting making a special effort to attend class when working on a service learning project. The majority of UNO students also indicated the service learning project helped with their personal development regarding five different skills: public speaking, teamwork, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and leadership abilities.
Higher education students were asked to compare their service learning courses to lecture-only courses. Most students found their service learning courses to be more engaging, meaningful, and beneficial than lecture-only courses. About one-third of students found service learning courses more challenging than traditional classroom courses.
Here’s what UNO students think of service learning
"It is a great experience everyone should get the chance to do."
"It's a fun way to combine traditional learning with community service."
"Service learning, in general, is extremely beneficial to skill-building!."
"This experience helped connect course content to real-life situations, which was invaluable."
"It is a great way to ger outside of your comfort zone and see more of the community."
"It's much more fun than traditional classroom education!"
**Source: SLA Surveys, 2018-2019