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Bonner Student Impact Survey - Overview

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 2 months ago

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Bonner Student Impact Survey


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Since its creation and growth starting in 1990, the Bonner Foundation and Program has sought to understand its impact on a number of dimensions – including campuses, communities, and especially students. By the time the program spread to 25 institutions in 2000, the Foundation launched a ten-year longitudinal assessment to evaluate its effectiveness and impact. Between 2000-2008, Cheryl and Jim Keen, respected scholars and researchers, led the design and implementation of a national Student Impact Survey to assess the effects of the program on students’ learning across the 25 campuses. Articles related to the Bonner Student Impact Survey and Alumni Survey have been published in the  Journal of College and Character, Journal of Higher Education, Michigan Journal of Service Learning (a respected journal for community engagement) and other journals. You can find these below.

 

In 2016, the Bonner Foundation began its redesign of the Student Impact Survey, broadening it to assess other impacts that reflected growth in the program and field. In the past decade, the Bonner Program and the field of campus-community engagement have grown and matured. New research has: a) linked community engagement with effective teaching and learning; b) pointed to its effects on students political and democratic engagement; and c) linked engagement with psychosocial well-being. With this learning in mind, the Bonner Foundation set out to redesign its Student Impact Survey and carry out smaller studies, such as one on retention and persistence. In collaboration with Raymond Barclay, a Senior Research Fellow at the Bonner Foundation with deep knowledge in institutional research and psychometric survey design, Ariane Hoy and Rachayita Shaw of the Bonner Foundation have created, piloted, and tested a survey that examines other dimensions of the program’s impact. Additionally, small scale pilots have examined connections of program participation with retention and completion. Below we share key findings and relevant publications.

 

Findings from the 2000-2010 Studies

 

 

These assessments strongly affirmed the positive effects of participation in the Bonner Program on students’ learning and development. Moreover, they dispelled common myths about community service, suggesting that an intense, developmental program of co-curricular engagement has significant impacts on student development and post-graduate outcomes. The assessment also found that providing financial scholarships or stipends for such engagement (critical for these low-income students) did not diminish gains. This, too, is an important addition to the field, as a common misperception has been that service only reinforces a charity model engaging students with economic privilege. 

 

The studies pointed to several key findings:

 

  • The Student Impact Survey attested to significant impact of a four-year co-curricular model on students’ success in college, development of leadership skills, and lifelong civic participation. The fourth year is especially important for students to internalize complex outcomes like a commitment to social justice (Keen & Hall, 2009).

  • Several elements of the Bonner Program contribute strongly to its effectiveness including the cohort experience, dialogue across difference, diversity within the program and campus context (the more diverse the students, the stronger impact the experience had), structured reflection, related education (i.e., meetings and courses), and mentoring (by peers, staff, faculty, and community partners).

  • This finding was complemented by assessment conducted in conjunction with the Bonner Foundation’s Serve 2.0 initiative by Abby Kiesa from CIRCLE. In examining how students used social media to enhance their civic engagement, these efforts found that indeed students in the Bonner Program were using platforms like Facebook to further learn about issues, connect with groups with shared interests, and pursue deeper knowledge and political engagement (Hoy and Kiesa, 2013).

 

Expanded Findings from 2018-2020

 

Through 2017-2018, the Bonner Foundation developed, piloted, tested, and refined a new Student Impact Survey. In Spring 2019, first year and senior students across the national network participated in the survey. In February 2020, the Bonner Foundation released a new report, entitled The Bonner Program: Proven Impacts.

 

  • Between the first and senior year, being in the Bonner Program has statistically significant positive impact on key educational outcomes for students, including their campus belonging and community connectedness, civic engagement, political engagement, identity development around issues of diversity, democratic values, and thriving. Civic engagement experiences, including leadership and project roles that students take with community partners, are positively correlated with their learning.

  • Being in the Bonner Program positively impacts students’ academic experiences and success. Students seek courses that improve their understanding of community issues and can improve their effectiveness in applying learning to real-world issues. A majority of students are now completing higher level capacity-building projects, including as academic capstones. Many are taking on research, program development, social action, and other problem solving. 

  • Being in the Bonner Program improves students’ retention, persistence, and graduation rates. With a majority of students are of color, low-income, and often first generation — the population that many institutions seek to successfully support today — the Bonner Program model offers higher education many replicable lessons. 

 

 

Download Full Articles and Reports Here

 

 

  • Bonner Data Study: Key Progression OutcomesIn 2018, the Bonner Foundation also conducted a small scale pilot study, analyzing seven years of institutional data from seven participating colleges and universities to compare key progression outcomes, such as completion, between students in the Bonner Program and their peers. Program participation was found to have positive impacts on students’ retention and completion.