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Leadership Education through Extracurricular Civic Engagement

Rebecca Awuah, Sena Agyepong, Prince Kwarase


This study evaluates an experiential learning civic engagement model of leadership education at a liberal arts university in Ghana. The extracurricular program, in which students apply for and receive funding for service projects aimed at impacting children and youth, includes ideation, project management and diversity training, coaching, and structured reflection. Key objectives include positive impacts on the community, growth in students’ leadership and project management competencies and increased civic engagement on campus. Document analysis, interviews with student project leaders and focus groups of community stakeholders were used to assess the degree to which the program met these objectives. Findings indicate that student led projects, particularly those in schools, can lead to academic and non-academic benefits for pupils, and that relationships between university student volunteers and pupils, teachers and parents are an important mechanism for pupils’ academic gains in the Ghanaian context. Service project leaders reported learning gains in 12 out of 13 leadership and project management competencies measured in the study. The funding increased overall student, faculty and staff involvement in community service and brought greater equity to extracurricular community service. The study suggests that such programs can enhance the civic purpose orientation of the university.


experiential learning; civic engagement; leadership education; Africa; Ghana

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