In a first of its kind study at Washington State University, students taking introductory biology coupled with a service-learning project, performed better academically and had improved first-year retention rates compared with students who did not participate in service-learning. The differences were most profound among first-generation and multicultural students.

Lisa Carloye
Paul Verrell.

Going into the study, School of Biological Sciences Professors Paul Verrell and Lisa Carloye were skeptical that a single service-learning experience incorporated into their course would have any discernible effect.

“That we found a statistically significant effect both surprised me and enthused me,” said Verrell. “I was long aware of the challenges faced by first-generation students being one myself, and so I was extremely pleased to see how well they benefited from one simple intervention.”

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