Charity and Project-Based Service Learning Models Increase Public Service Motivation Outcomes among Dietetic Students in a Community Nutrition Course

Lauren M. Dinour, Jennifer Kuscin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To determine whether dietetic students would report a change in their public service motivation (PSM) following a community nutrition service learning (SL) course, and whether the SL model (charity vs. project) influences this change differently. Design: Using a pretest-posttest, nonequivalent groups quasi-experimental design, this study compared students' PSM at the beginning and end of a 15-week college-level course. PSM and four component dimensions (attraction to public policy, commitment to public interest, compassion, and self-sacrifice) were measured via electronic survey using the PSM scale. Average PSM scores were compared between and within the charity and project groups using independent samples and paired-sample t-tests, respectively. Analysis of covariance assessed the effect of SL model on post-survey scores, controlling for pre-survey scores. Setting: Public university in northeastern United States. Participants: Dietetic students enrolled in six sections of the same undergraduate community nutrition SL course. Students were placed by section in either charity (n=59) or project (n=52) SL experiences and required to complete 14 hours in this role. Results: Mean PSM total scores increased between pre-survey and post-survey (3.50 v. 3.58; P=0.001). Students reported small increases in three PSM dimensions: commitment to public interest, compassion, and self-sacrifice (all P≤0.01). Holding pre-scores constant, the charity group reported a higher attraction to public policy post-score, while the project group reported a higher self-sacrifice post-score (both P<0.05). Conclusions: Educators should consider adopting SL methods into curricular offerings to enhance students' motivation for public service.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • community nutrition
  • dietetics
  • education
  • public service motivation
  • service learning

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