Personal Values and Youth Involvement S. Mark Pancer, Wilfrid ...

Personal Values and Youth Involvement S. Mark Pancer, Wilfrid ...

Ontario`s Mandated High School Community Service Program: Assessing Civic Engagement After Four Years
S. D. Brown, S.M. Pancer, P. Padanyi, M. Baetz, J. Goyder, M. Drysdale & A. Henderson
Results
Comparing HS Volunteering Experiences of Mandated
and Non-Mandated Students

Current Volunteering: Comparing the Mandated Service Group with other
Service groups and a ``No Service`` group

Introduction
In 1999, the Ontario government introduced a requirement that high school
students complete 40 hours of community service before graduating. Part of
the governments reason for doing so was to promote greater civic
engagement among young adults. With the program now approaching its
tenth year, it is appropriate to ask how successfully it is meeting its
objectives.
In the present investigation, two main questions are addressed:
1.Does mandating the service in high school have any negative effects on
attitudes and volunteering several years later?
2.Does the program promote greater civic engagement among its key target
population: those who probably would not have been introduced to the
voluntary sector without the requirement?

Participants
820 4th year university students at Wilfrid Laurier University and University
of Guelph
71.4% female, 29.6% male
Mean age: 22.6 years
Range of ages: 21-26

Those mandated to volunteer in high school did so at a greater rate than those
who did not have a requirement (94% vs 77%). Hence the mandated program
exposed a greater proportion of the high school cohort to the voluntary sector.
The community service experiences were similar in comparing the two cohorts,
but not identical. There were no differences in the average number of
volunteer sectors sampled by the cohorts or in the likelihood of at least a yearlong commitment at a placement. However, the average ``enjoyment`` index
score in describing the placement was somewhat but statistically higher for the
non-mandated cohort.

Current Volunteering: Comparing Mandated, Non-mandated
and No service Groups from High School

The main target population for mandated community service programs are
students who would not otherwise be inclined to volunteer their time. To see the
effects of the program on this target population, we divided the mandated group
into those who had volunteered prior to their mandated community service
(``mandated and volunteered`` group) and those for whom the mandated service
was their first experience with the voluntary sector (``mandated only`` group). The
bar graph compares subsequent civic involvements across the four groups. It
suggests that for the three behavioural measures of involvement, the ``mandated
only`` group more closely resembles the ``no service`` group than the other groups
that volunteered in high school. Only for the attitudinal measure regarding
volunteering does is the ``mandated only`` group more like the other two
volunteering groups.
Predicting Current Volunteering Levels
Regressing Current Volunteering on Social Background and
HS Community Service Characteristics and Service Groups
Variables
Unstandardized
Std.
B Coefficients
Error

Method
Participants completed a 25-minute online survey dealing with their high
school community service experience and with their recent community
service activities. The survey also gathered information about the social
and family background of the students. Since this 4 th year class was the
Ontario double cohort, about half (50.2%) of the students had completed
community service in high school as a requirement for graduation while the
other half (49.8%) had not. Since the two cohorts were comparable in
most other respects, the non-mandated cohort can serve as a quasiexperimental control group for assessing the effects of mandating
community service.

Do those who volunteered in high school exhibit higher levels of civic engagement
four years after high school graduation than those who did no high school
community service. The bar graph indicates that the ``no service`` group was
significantly below both the mandated and non-mandated volunteers for all four of
the civic engagement measures. The mandated group was not significantly
different from the non-mandated group on these measures.

Predicting Current Volunteering Levels
Regressing Current Volunteering on Social Background and
HS Community Service Characteristics
Variables
Independent Measures
Was the student compelled to complete a community service requirement
in high school?
If so, was this his/her first introduction to volunteering?
Characteristics of high school community service experience
Number of volunteer sectors worked (6 sectors offered)
Duration of longest placement in any sector
Enjoyment of experience (an 8-item scale) at longest placement
Social Background factors: gender, religious attendance, high school
activity level, urban-rural residence, mothers and fathers community
service activity levels

Dependent Measures
Index of community service activity in last 12 months (6 volunteer sectors)
Level of university charitable activity in last 12 months
Current attitude toward volunteering (3-item scale)

Unstandardized
B Coefficients

Std.
Error

Statistical
Significance

Constant

-.13

.40

NS

Background Factors
Sex
Politics discussed in family
Religious attendance
HS Activity level
Urban-Rural residence
Mother`s CS activity
Father`s CS Activity

.18
-.76
2.18
.83
.21
1.50
1.34

.21
.32
.31
.25
.25
.56
.56

NS
.02
.001
.001
NS
.01
.02

HS Com Service Characteristics
Breadth of HS volunteering
Duration of HS volunteering
Enjoyment of HS volunteering
Mandated HS volunteering or not
R2

.32
-.22
2.23
-.08
.28

.07
.15
.49
.18

.001
.04
.001
NS
.001

Because differences in the social backgrounds of the cohorts may explain the differences , a
multiple regression was conducted with controls for those background factors. The analysis
indicates that breadth of high school service (number of sectors in which the student volunteered)
and the degree of ``enjoyment`` it engendered are significant predictors of subsequent volunteering
. However, the fact that service was mandated is not a significant predictor.

Statistical
Significance

Constant

.23

.47

NS

Background Factors
Sex
Politics discussed in family
Religious attendance
HS Activity level
Urban-Rural residence
Mother`s CS activity
Father`s CS Activity

.20
-.77
2.20
.84
.21
1.48
1.31

.21
.31
.31
.25
.25
.56
.57

NS
.02
.001
.001
NS
.01
.02

HS Com Service Characteristics
Breadth of HS volunteering
Duration of HS volunteering
Enjoyment of HS volunteering
Intro to CS by HS Mandated Requirement
Mandated but Vol. In HS Before
Not Mandated & Volunteered in HS
R2

.34
-.11
1.97
-.71
-.56
-.60
.28

.07
.13
.52
.47
.42
.43

.001
NS
.001
NS
NS
NS
.001

A multiple regression simultaneously controls for the effects of background characteristics as well as the
various community service characteristics. The regression suggests that volunteering by itself whether
because it was mandated or freely chosen does not significantly improve our ability to predict
subsequent community service activity relative to those who did not volunteer in high school. Among
high school community service characteristics, only ``breadth`` of service and ``enjoyment`` of service
matter.

Conclusions
Mandated service experiences in high school are similar to voluntary service experiences in high school.
It appears that mandating community service does not ``poison the well`` for future volunteering.
Mandated and Non-mandated groups exhibit similar levels of civic engagement and both exhibit somewhat
greater levels of civic involvement than those who did no community service in high school.
Students who volunteered more reluctantly in high school that is, those forced into it by the mandated
requirement were not more likely to volunteer subsequently than those who did no high school service at
all. That is, the argument that forcing students into the voluntary sector will pay dividends down the road is
not supported by these data.
More important than the initial stimulus for volunteering are how much the student enjoyed the experience
and how broadly he or she sampled the voluntary sector. Hence, this would seem to argue for wellstructured programs that assist high school students to find suitable and satisfying placements.
Surprisingly, duration of high school commitment did not emerge as a significant predictor of subsequent
involvement.

Limitations
The test population here is a 4th year university cohort. Participants are just completing a period at
university in which significant socialization effects can be expected. Hence, after controls, the absence of
differences in subsequent civic engagement between those who volunteered in high school and those who
did not may be the result of these intervening socialization processes.

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