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Wednesday, June 22 • 16:45 - 18:00
POSTER.01 - The Impact of Community Engaged Education on Undergraduate Student Development

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Community engagement is an educational experience through which students learn course concepts by interacting with a specific community to produce public benefit. It is a pedagogical method that offers a wide range of positive impacts on student development (Furco, Jones-White, Huesman & Gorny, 2012). While community engaged learning methods have been practiced in the United States for several decades, this approach has recently become more widespread in Canadian universities (Chambers, 2009).

This study investigated the impacts of community engagement on undergraduate students in a high enrollment (190 students) second-level neuroscience course at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) during the winter semester of 2016. A pre-survey was administered in January and a post-survey was administered in March following students’ community engagement experiences. The survey used a 5-point Likert agreement scale to assess student experience. It was hypothesized that community engagement would promote student development across four themes: academic development, civic responsibility, professional skill development, and personal skill development. Based on previous research, the largest impact was expected to occur in professional and personal skill development (Astin & Sax, 1998; Furco et al., 2012). Descriptive statistics indicated that the greatest changes in student perceptions occurred in the theme of academic development, specifically in understanding of course content, academic value, and student-faculty interactions. There were no changes in student perceptions observed for questions on future community engagement plans and value of reflection. Student perceptions in both pre- and post-surveys remained positive for 21 of 26 survey questions, suggesting that community engagement benefits student development in areas that they originally predicted. Findings from this study could be used to guide further areas of research and to assist with course design for other instructors. Future directions may include using focus groups to capture a greater understanding of the impacts of community engagement on student development.


Deanne Wah

Deanne Wah is a fourth year Honours Biology student pursuing a Minor in Psychology at McMaster University. Her thesis project explores the impacts of community engaged learning on undergraduate student development. Additionally, Deanne is interested in neuroendocrinology. She... Read More →

Urszula Zoladeski

McMaster University
Urszula Zoladeski is an Honours Biology student at McMaster University. The focus of her academic career is animal and human behaviour, specifically human learning and cognition. Participating in McMaster’s MacEngaged program as a second year student sparked her interest in service... Read More →

Additional Authors

Ayesha Khan

Dr. Ayesha Khan is an Assistant Professor at McMaster with the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior. Her research interests explore enhancement of undergraduate student experience through experiential education and ways through which social loafing can be decreased... Read More →

Cristina Tortora

Cristina Tortora is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at McMaster University.

Mirella Mazza

Mirella Mazza is an Honours Biology graduate of McMaster University. She is currently a Nursing student at the University of Toronto.

Paul McNicholas

Paul McNicholas is the Canada Research Chair in Computational Statistics and a Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics at McMaster University.

Wednesday June 22, 2016 16:45 - 18:00 EDT
Atrium, Physics & Astronomy Building Western University