The Value of Volunteer Leadership for University Students Formerly Enrolled in Prescribed Reading: An Anti-Deficit Model




Nelson, Timothy

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Texas State University, The Education Institute


Local volunteer opportunities hold the potential for university students to develop as leaders and engaged members of the academic community, but students taking prescribed (sometimes termed developmental education) courses may be overlooked as candidates for these kinds of opportunities. Taking an anti-deficit stance, university faculty may promote student success by recruiting students from prescribed courses to participate in carefully-designed volunteer programs. In this qualitative case study, I explored the perceptions of growth in the areas of academic engagement and leadership and the motivation to participate in future community volunteer service in student volunteers who had previously been enrolled in prescribed reading courses. Three such university student volunteers reflected on their experience as leaders in a short-term academic outreach program for high school students. In open-ended survey and interview responses, the university volunteers described their development of specific skills as well as changes in self-perception. Their responses indicated that they perceived the volunteer experience as effectual in all the investigated areas. Notably, they reported that serving as role models for youth encouraged specific academic habits. The study includes descriptions of the academic outreach program with supporting theory for its design because the context of the volunteer service cannot be separated from the findings. This study is a unique contribution to student success literature—there is no previous model linking students from prescribed courses with community volunteer opportunities.



university student leadership development, student success, developmental education, anti-deficit, volunteer experiences


Nelson, T. (2023). The value of volunteer leadership for university students formerly enrolled in prescribed reading: An anti-deficit model. Journal of College Academic Support Programs, 5(2).


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