Fostering Student Work-Based Experiences Through Service-Learning

Fostering Student Work-Based Experiences Through Service-Learning

Jennifer Maddrell (Designers for Learning, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9279-2.ch049


This case study explains how a complete overhaul to the national high school equivalency test posed a significant organizational challenge to Grace Centers of Hope, a nonprofit based in Pontiac, Michigan in the United States. All adult clients participating in Grace Centers of Hope's one-year drug and alcohol recovery program who are without a high school diploma or equivalent are required to take in-house adult basic education classes to prepare for taking the high school equivalency test. Faced with the need to completely redesign their existing adult basic education program, Grace Centers of Hope reached out to Designers for Learning, an instructional design and performance improvement consultancy that matches nonprofits with instructional design students in service-learning projects. The resulting 100% virtual e-service-learning collaboration among volunteer college students, their faculty sponsors, and other advisors provided Grace Centers of Hope with educational resources to support the organization.
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Setting The Stage

U.S. Adult Educational Attainment

According to 2012 U. S. Census Bureau data, approximately 30 million adults over the age of 18 (13% of the total population within this age range) had not attained a high school diploma or the equivalent. To put this figure into perspective, the U.S. Department of Education reported 55 million children were enrolled in grades PreK–12 in 2012 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). Therefore, if all adult Americans who had not reached high school equivalency entered the U.S. PreK-12 school system, enrollment would increase by 55%.

The U.S. Census Bureau data offered additional insight regarding the educational attainment levels of adults age 25 and over who have not completed high school. Table 1 summarizes the highest level of educational attainment for these 25 million adults. Of note is the need for educational opportunities at a range of levels, including for the 41% who concluded their formal education before completing the ninth grade.

Table 1.
Highest grade-level attained, no diploma
Highest Grade-Level Attained(000)%
Less than 1 year7963.15%
1st-4th grade1,6886.68%
5th-6th grade3,50413.86%
7th-8th grade4,29617.00%
9th grade3,69214.61%
10th grade4,01115.87%
11th grade4,71818.66%
12th grade2,57210.17%

Not surprisingly, the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data reflected that high school completion was related to employment. While the unemployment rate reported in the census data was 6.2% among those who had not attained a high school diploma or equivalent, the unemployment rates were less among those who completed their formal education after receiving a high school diploma or equivalent (5.4%) and among those who completed a Bachelor's degree (3.5%).

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