Identifying Student Traits and Motives to Service-Learn: Public Service Orientation Among New College Freshmen


Among college students, public service motives influence choice of major or job. Although the link between public service motives and prosocial behavior has been established among working adults, researchers have not adequately examined how these motives affect the reported behavior of pre-career students. In this article, the authors explored how public service motives and certain demographic characteristics were related to the service orientation of college freshmen. More specifically, they examined whether public service motivation was related to a student’s proclivity to enroll in service-learning courses and volunteer frequently. Results indicated that public service motives were positively associated with both curricular and extracurricular public service activities among first-year college students. Race and gender were found to be key traits affecting engagement. The implications of these findings for public service research and education are discussed.