A recent randomized evaluation conducted by Rimm-Kaufman and colleagues investigated the effects of Connect Science on student academic achievement and civic engagement. Connect Science is a service-learning program, a form of project-based learning that aims to prepare students to tackle with social and environmental problems in their community. The content of the intervention in this study was related to energy use and social emotional skills in groupwork.
The study involved 41 fourth grade classes in the South-Central US randomly assigned to receive the intervention over 14-22 weeks or to continue with their regular practice. Science achievement and civic engagement were measured using quantitative tests developed by the researchers who conducted the study. Researcher-made measures may overestimate the effect of the intervention compared to independent tests, such as standardized or state tests. For this reason, the results presented below should be used with caution. Results showed
- Significant positive effects for science achievement (ES = +0.32).
- Significant positive effects for domain-specific civic engagement measured by Energy Attitudes & Behaviors (ES =+0.31).
- No statistically significant effects were found for general civic engagement (Civic Efficacy & Skills, ES = +0.21).
Although the study was well-conducted and the results showed positive effects in students’ science achievement, further research is needed to test the effectiveness of Connect Science using independent measures of science achievement.
Source: Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Merritt, E. G., Lapan, C., DeCoster, J., Hunt, A., & Bowers, N. (2021). Can service-learning boost science achievement, civic engagement, and social skills? A randomized controlled trial of Connect Science. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 74, 101236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101236