Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


University of Northern Iowa--Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services; Service learning--Iowa--Cedar Falls; College students--Ability testing--Iowa--Cedar Falls; Academic theses;


Camp Adventure™ Child and Youth Services (CACYS) is a distinctive academic program that emphasizes service learning opportunities for students. It focuses on preparing students with necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to plan and implement the services for children and youth of varying lengths with a focus on different ages and needs. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the changes of college and/or university students in core competencies from entry to exit in the CACYS using a framework offered by Bok (2006). The core competencies included in this study were communication, critical thinking, character development, citizenship, diversity, global understanding, widening of interests, and career and vocational development. Change patterns demonstrated by students in core competencies were charted at critical points, namely, Phase I: baseline of their core competencies at entry; Phase II: after enrolling in a course that focused on knowledge and skill acquisition required for the CACYS program implementation but before its field experience; and Phase III: immediately after the CACYS field experience. A secondary aim of this study was to explore the impact on participants' attitudes and perceptions as a result of their CACYS service learning experience.

Three hundred and eighteen (318) college and university students, who were involved for the first time in the CACYS at 10 staff development sites, were invited to voluntarily participate in this study. The web-based and self-administered questionnaires including a 56-item 7-point Likert-type Core Competencies Scale (CCS) and al 8-item 5-point Likert scale Service Learning Measurement (SLM) were used for data collection. Eighty-three (83) individuals completed all questionnaires of the three phases.

The results indicated that there was a significant growth in eight core competencies of college and/or university students from Phase I to II. There was also a significant improvement of core competencies except citizenship from Phases I to III. However, there was no statistically significant change from Phase II to Ill. These findings suggest that core competencies can be enhanced through a service learning program. Further, the findings of the SLM show that most participants have positive attitudes and perceptions as a result of their CACYS experience. The results of no differences between/among the groups defined in this study are also encouraging to note that this program has similar impact on all participants regardless of their ethnicities, backgrounds, experiences, and staff development sites.

The study offers a framework for assessing outcomes and as such offers a model for increasing accountability in institutions of higher learning. Further, the study provides a conceptual model that details the way in which the principles of service learning can be incorporated integrating academic content, experiential learning and reflection, all is support of greater community engagement.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Christopher Edginton


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