Engaged Scholarship

Consistent with UMBC’s mission, The Shriver Center is helping to advance the national conversation on the role of applied learning in higher education and the integration of theory and practice through the scholarship of application and engaged scholarship. Shriver Center initiatives provide opportunities for the systematic reflection and examination necessary for determining the extent to which Center programs (Service-Learning & Community Engagement, Peaceworker Program, Public Service Scholars Programs, Choice Program) are achieving their goals and objectives. The Center’s evaluation and assessment efforts provide information about Center programs that is key in attracting continued funding, as well as other opportunities for expansion and influence in the Baltimore Metropolitan community. In turn, monetary awards and community recognition attract local, state and national attention to UMBC and The Shriver Center.

In 2019, Dr. Delana Gregg successfully completed her doctoral program in Language, Literacy, and Culture. In Dr. Gregg’s dissertation, entitled: ‘Effects of “High-Impact Practices” on First-Generation College Students’ Academic Success, over 15,000 student records from UMBC were analyzed from 2013-2018 to estimate the effects of “high-impact practice” participation on student success. Students who participated in service-learning were matched with similar students who did not (using propensity score matching and regression, including key variables that lead to student success: high school grades, grades at UMBC, number of credits completed, under-represented minority status, gender, living on campus). After matching on propensity score to determine treatment effects of service learning participation, there was a statistically significant increase in retention beyond the second year (10-11 percentage points increase) and in retention beyond the third year (13 percentage points) for first-time students. Also, 9,985 survey responses were analyzed from students who had participated in the “high-impact practices.”  Students who participated in service-learning reported significant increases in their academic engagement (critical thinking skills and learning academic knowledge and skills) and their social engagement (interpersonal communication, oral presentation and interacting across diversity.

In FY14, Dr. Thomas Penniston, Shriver Peaceworker Fellow Program alumnus, successfully completed his doctoral program in Language, Literacy and Culture. Dr. Penniston’s dissertation, entitled: “The Impacts of Service-Learning Participation upon Post-Secondary Students’ Academic & Social Development” involved quantitative and qualitative methods, including 18 years of longitudinal data, representing 55,000 students and numerous statistical controls. His qualitative component involved 10 semi-structured interviews. This study provides an in-depth analysis of students’ academic, personal and social development. Specific findings suggest:

  • Service-learning students who engaged in Shriver Center experiences demonstrate a diverse set of advantages over students who did not engage in similar experiences including academic development, pro-social growth and community binding mechanisms.
  • In particular, service-learning students were significantly more likely to:
    • Have higher final cumulative GPAs than non-applied learning students;
    • Have attempted and earned more credits;
    • Graduate with honors;
  • Service-learning students four-year graduation rate was significantly higher than non-applied learning students.