Engagement in Higher Education Research Reports

The center presents an ongoing series of research reports that explore the impact of community-based learning and efforts to promote social responsibility at Notre Dame. Designed for a broad set of audiences, the reports present results of targeted research questions at the center. We encourage the use of the reports as tools for understanding of student development and improving practice. 

For more information, contact the series editor, Jay Brandenberger.

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Democratic Engagement at Notre Dame: Learning from the 2020 Post-Election Student Survey

(January 2022). This report examines Notre Dame student engagement in the 2020 national election, including voting rate, salient issues, and understanding of campus civic culture. Trends from previous campus studies and national data provide context.

 How Notre Dame Voted: Political Attitudes and Engagement of Notre Dame Students in the 2016 Election

(September 2018). This report examines trends in Notre Dame student voting in the 2016 national election by gender, college, and other variables, and examines student civic/political interest and engagement across various elections dating back to 2004.

Why Engage? Notre Dame Students’ Motivations for Engaging in Service

(February 2017). This report examines what motivates Notre Dame undergraduates to engage in service and suggests how programs seeking to engage students might consider appealing to a range of motivations.

Seminars are a Cause for Concern

(October 2011). This report examines the effectiveness of Social Concerns Seminars in fostering University learning goals to promote within our students a disciplined sensibility toward poverty and injustice, and a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good. The research examined constructs that are salient in community-based learning: openness to diversity, understanding of poverty, views of helping and responsibility, and beliefs about justice.

Community-Based Learning, Research, and Service at Notre Dame: Student Engagement from 1983 to 2008

(April 2008). This report documents student participation trends at Notre Dame during the past twenty-five years since the opening of the Center for Social Concerns in 1983.

Political Engagement and College: Attitudes and Voting Trends Among Notre Dame Students

(July 2005). This report examines political interest and engagement among students at the University of Notre Dame, drawing from a post-election survey and related services.

Lasting Effects? A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of Service Learning

(February 2005). This report summarizes the findings of a longitudinal study that examined a random sample of undergraduates that participated in the 1987 Summer Service Project and a matched control group approximately ten years after graduation. Findings are discussed in relation to developmental theory and higher education.

As Learning Becomes Service to Justice: Postgraduate Service Participation

(May 2004). Who volunteers, and why? This report examines historical participation rates, notes trends in postgraduate service, and analyzes how participants differ from non-participants. We have drawn data from various sources, including surveys facilitated by the Center for Social Concerns and the Office of Institutional Research.

The Urban Plunge: College Student Views on Poverty in the U.S.

(January 2004). In this report, we discuss results of a study of two recent cohorts of participants designed to ascertain students’ understandings of poverty and to enhance our educational effectiveness. We built our survey from one conducted by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (2001), enabling national comparisons.

An Ethic of Service and Learning: Student Participation in Service and Community-Based Learning Initiatives at Notre Dame

(April 2003). This report examines overall trends in Notre Dame undergraduate student service participation, situating findings in historical and national contexts. The goal is to provide a broad overview of participation in curricular and extracurricular domains to guide educational development and further research.

Summer Service Learning—What Distinguishes Students Who Choose to Participate from Those Who Do Not? Part Two: Gender, Goals, and Influences on Spiritual and Educational Development

(May 2002). This research report continues the discussion of differences between students who undertake Summer Service Project Internships (SSPI) through the Center for Social Concerns and those who do not.

Summer Service Learning—What Distinguishes Students Who Choose to Participate from Those Who Do Not? Part One: Religion, Parents, and Social Awareness

(January 2002). Which students are attracted to this intensive summer service and academic program? To assist us in reaching more of our students, as well as in understanding students’ developmental processes and why and how they are motivated for involvement, we decided to explore this question.

Religious Commitment and Prosocial Behavior: A Study of Undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame

(December 2001). This report explores the association between religious involvement and prosocial behavior. Are those who express greater religious commitment more likely to be involved in community service and social action? 

Summer Service Learning Participation: 1980-1999

(November 2001). This report documents the growth of the Summer Service Project at the University of Notre Dame from 1980 to 1999, and examines relevant participant characteristics.