Numerous studies demonstrate the effectiveness of university-based community service programs on students’ personal, social, ethical, and academic domains. These effects depend on both, the characteristics of students enrolled and the characteristics of the programs, for instance whether they are voluntary or mandatory. Our study investigates whether effects of voluntary service programs are indeed caused by the service experience or by prior self-selection. Using data from a pre–post quasi-experimental design conducted at a public university in Europe and taking students’ socioeconomic background into account, our findings on self-efficacy, generalized trust, empathic concern, and attributions for poverty show that there are no participation effects. Instead, students who join in community service differ significantly from nonparticipants with regard to almost all investigated domains a priori, indicating strong self-selection. Our results underline the importance of structured group reflection, most notably with regard to attitude-related topics.
Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)
- 502023 NPO research