Scaffolding Civic Engagement Projects: A Study into the Effectiveness of Supported Small-Scale, Interrelated, Student-Designed Projects


  • Monica Janzen Anoka Ramsey Community College
  • Catherine Ford Minnesota State System Office


scaffolding, civic engagement, experience-based learning, service learning, community colleges


This study examines the efficacy of scaffolding in a revised civic engagement project at a community college as compared with the outcomes of a previously studied civic engagement project that did not utilize scaffolding. The new project, Experiments in Ethics, consists of small-scale, interrelated assignments. Course design ensures that scaffolding is built into this new project through an iterative process of reflection and feedback to support community college students. Results show that using scaffolding significantly helps students gain important communication, citizenship, practical, and critical thinking skills. Investigators believe that replacing semester long CE projects, that culminate in a large-scale assignment, with scaffolded and supported smaller-scale, interrelated experiments is a highly effective strategy. A limitation of this study is that data are self-reported by students. It is believed this scaffolding strategy can be applied to assignments from various disciplines in introductory classes at both two and four-year institutions. Future research could examine this.






Articles & Essays