Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Student volunteer work and learning. Undergraduates’ experiences and self-reported outcomes
Authors: Raykov, Milosh
Taylor, Alison
Jamal, Sameena
Wu, Sirui
Keywords: Part-time students -- Canada
Students -- Academic workload
Internship programs -- Canada
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: University of British Columbia
Citation: Raykov, M., Taylor, A., Jamal S., & Wu, S. (2020). Student volunteer work and learning. Undergraduates’ experiences and self-reported outcomes. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.
Abstract: More than ever, university students are seeking voluntary as well as paid work experiences prior to graduation to help them develop skills. Unpaid work often involves different motivations and has different benefits and challenges vis-à-vis paid work. It is also less visible than paid work and tends to be given less research attention. This report follows on our earlier report on UBC undergraduate students and paid work by documenting features of students’ unpaid work as well as differences in their perceptions of paid and unpaid work. The term “unpaid work” covers a wide range of opportunities that includes student clubs and associations, community-engaged learning, student leadership, and internships. There is a sizeable academic literature that addresses university students and different kinds of unpaid work; their motivations for engaging (or not engaging) in voluntary work and perceived benefits; differences in participation based on gender and international student status; and the issue of voluntary work and equity. Our Hard Working Student study contributes to this literature based on our quantitative and qualitative findings. Quantitative results come from two datasets: a pilot survey in 2018 followed by a module in 2019, both tied to the Undergraduate Experience Survey of students at UBC-Vancouver. In 2018, responses were obtained from 1,073 (62%) female and 659 (38%) male students. In 2019, responses were obtained from 1,117 (37%) male and 1,870 (63%) female students for a total of 2,987. Qualitative data include 12 focus group interviews with 37 second-year students recruited across faculties at UBC-V in January and February 2019. Findings from 2018 suggest that almost half (49%) of the undergraduate students were involved in volunteer work, while a slightly smaller proportion of students (44%) reported participating in volunteer activities in 2019. The average time spent on unpaid work in both years was around 6 hours per week. Our interviews with 37 working students found that even more (68%) also participated in unpaid work. Overall, our findings indicate that more female students than males participated in unpaid work, but did so for a little bit less time, on average, than male students. The reasons most frequently given for voluntary work were to gain career-related experience (40%) and to make a social contribution (39%). Almost three-quarters of international students surveyed (74%) also indicated that their voluntary work was important to gain Canadian work experience. Interviews add that students may also develop passion for a career through volunteer work. Common motivations for volunteer work on campus were to socialize and have fun. Over two-thirds (69%) of students who volunteered agreed or strongly agreed that it helped them build career-related skills. Volunteer work was also perceived to influence their further education plans (53% agreed or strongly agreed) and career plans (58% agreed or strongly agreed). Interviews add that international and out-of-province students felt that on-campus voluntary experience helped in their transition to university. However, expensive international opportunities were out of the reach of some students. Interestingly, more students perceived that their unpaid work had impact on their development of skills, future education and career plans, and interest in university compared to their paid work. In our 2019 survey, for example, unpaid work was reported to be more influential than paid work for developing career-related skills (69% vs 60%) as well as deciding on future education plans (53% vs 39%). Similarly, unpaid work appeared to be more influential than paid work for career plans (58% vs 45%). Unpaid work also increased students’ interest in university more than paid work (50% vs 35%). Interviews suggest that greater choice of unpaid work and flexibility in conditions of work may contribute to these results. While our Hard Working Student research project focuses primarily on students’ paid term-time work, the data reported provide an important reminder that work needs to be thought about in more expansive ways to capture the complexity of students’ experiences.
Appears in Collections:Scholarly Works - FacEduES

Items in OAR@UM are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.