Adolescents in some countries and U.S. states are required to perform community service, and many national and nongovernmental agencies promote such service. A new study has found that while community service has broad benefits for adolescents, it is particularly effective when the activities are accompanied by reflection and discussion.
The study, by researchers at Utrecht University and Rutgers University, appears in the journal Child Development.
Researchers used meta-analysis to assess findings from 49 studies from around the world that were conducted from 1980 to 2012 and involved 24,477 participants from ages 12 to 20, focusing on identifying how reflection contributed to community service.
They defined reflection as guided thinking, or structured, deliberative thinking, about the community service activities and related academic, social, civic, and moral topics. They also examined how the effect of community service was influenced by characteristics of the community service and of the adolescents who took part.
The study found that community service had a positive effect on all examined outcomes: academic (e.g., school grades and school motivation), personal (e.g., self-esteem and identity), social (e.g., tolerance and social skills), and civic (e.g., civic responsibility and volunteering). In addition, structured reflection was a crucial part of the overall effect of community service. Community service that included reflection had a substantial, beneficial effect, while community service without reflection yielded a negligible effect.
"This indicates that it's important for community service activities to be complemented by opportunities for reflection," note A. J. van Goethem, a post-doctoral researcher at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at Utrecht University of Amsterdam, and Daniel Hart, professor of psychology and childhood studies at Rutgers University, who participated in the study.
The study also found that community service was particularly effective when reflection was integrated with the school curriculum (e.g., as part of a class on social studies). Connecting community service with an academic course may help youth understand the meaning of their service experiences.
Furthermore, the positive effect of community service was stronger when service was performed more often; in the study, youth performed on average 65 hours of community service over 28 weeks. It was also stronger when reflection occurred more frequently; in the study, youth reflected 24 times in the 28 weeks (e.g., one time of reflection was equivalent to one classroom session in which students discussed community service). And the benefits were greater among older adolescents (e.g., teens in their last year of high school). These findings can inform educators on how to develop and implement effective community service programs for teens.
In 2012, 22 percent of U.S. millennials (youth born between 1982 and 2001), then between 11 and 20 years old, had performed unpaid, organized community service activities in the previous year, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The study was supported by Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Summarized from Child Development, The Role of Reflection in the Effects of Community Service on Adolescent Development: A Meta-Analysis by van Goethem, AAJ, van Hoof, A, Orobio de Castro, B, van Aken, MAG (Utrecht University), and Hart, D (Rutgers University).
Copyright 2014 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hannah Klein | Eurek Alert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy