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Hypothesis Testing Two statistical analyses were used to test the hypotheses in this study. We first looked at the correlation between the dependent and independent variables, and then we conducted a regression analysis to provide a more stringent test for our hypothesis. Initial correlation analysis supported the relationship between attitudes toward volunteering and volunteering 688 behavior (r =.28, p.001) and self-efficacy towards volunteering and current volunteering behavior (r =.27, p.001), but did not support the relationship between subjective beliefs and volunteering behaviors (friends: r =.06, classmates: r =.06, and family: r = -.02). These analyses indicate support for H1a and H1c.
We also evaluated the hypotheses with hierarchical regression analysis. In step 1, we controlled for sex, age, membership to a club, and proactive personality because these because these characteristics can be associated with volunteering behaviors (Need ref). In step 2 we entered the effects for attitudes, beliefs (friends, classmates, and family), self efficacy and taking a class that required volunteering in the past. We evaluated the significance of each step with Change F (∆F) and interpreted betas with t-values. After accounting for the controls, addition of main effects in step 2 significantly increased explained variance in voice (∆F =2.74, p.05). As reported in Table 2, the beta for attitudes was positive and significant in step two (β =.24, p.05), supporting H1a. Results were not consistent with H1b or H1c because neither of the beliefs or self-efficacy was significantly related to volunteering behavior. Overall variance explained was 22% (adjusted R2 =.17).
Research Questions To assess the RQ1 and RQ2 we explored the correlation of the variables and we also conducted a t-test. RQ1 focused on understanding whether there was a relationship between having had a course that requires volunteerism and attitudes toward volunteering. As can be seen in table 1, there was no significant relationship between attitudes toward volunteering and having had a previous course that required the participant to volunteer (r =.06, p = n.s.). Similarly, when conducting a t-test we found that there was no significant difference between those who had taken a course that required them to volunteer (M = 3.89, SD =.61) and those that did not (M = 3.98, SD =.65) in their current volunteer behavior, t(302) = 1.12, p = n.s.
RQ2 focused on understanding whether there was a relationship between having had a course that requires volunteerism and current volunteering behavior. There was a significant relationship between having had a course that required participants to volunteer and the current volunteer behavior (r =.14, p.05). T-test also showed this relationship. In particular, participants who had taken a course that required them to volunteer (M = 1.51, SD =.50) where more likely to report that they were currently volunteering, when compared to participants that had not taken a course that required them to volunteer (M = 1.38, SD =.49), t(302) = 2.37, p.05.
Discussion The current study was designed to explore how attitudes, the beliefs of others, and perceptions of control predict volunteering behavior for students. Results indicate that, in regards to volunteering, attitudes and a perceived level of control are positively related to volunteering behaviors. Thus, individuals are more likely to engage in volunteerism if they possess positive attitudes toward the behavior and if they believe they possess the resources needed to be a successful and effective volunteer. In the case of our study, the beliefs of valued others (i.e., friends, classmates, or family) regarding volunteering did not have a significant impact on volunteering behavior.
The study also examined the consequences of forcing students to volunteer as part of a course requirement on their current attitudes toward volunteering and their volunteering behavior. As referenced earlier, academic institutions nationwide are beginning to incorporate civic engagement and community service into courses and student organizations. The current study further explored whether volunteering for a course requirement impacts students’ attitudes 689 toward volunteering and volunteering behavior. Results indicate that having been enrolled in a course that requires volunteering has no impact on attitudes towards volunteering, but does have an impact on current volunteer behavior of students.
When taken together, these results have important implications for PR scholars and practitioners, especially for those that work for non-profit organizations. For scholars, this study provide an important avenue that can help advance research on volunteerism as well as provide a strong snapshot of which variables may impact volunteering behavior. First, results indicate that when deciding to engage in volunteerism, individuals may rely more on their own perceptions about volunteering than on the feedback of others. This is consistent with the intrinsic rewards and personal dedication to service that is characteristic of long-term volunteers. However, pressure from an external source, such as a volunteerism requirement for a course only affected the volunteer behavior but not the attitudes toward volunteering. This is interesting, because it may be that having students volunteer as part of a course is only good for a while, but does not change the attitudes towards volunteering. This is important because it may be that the best way to promote volunteering may come by creating messages that affect the attitudes that students have toward volunteering. Thus, future research in PR should explore the long term consequences of requiring students to volunteer on their attitudes towards volunteering, and how messages developed by NPOs can affect attitudes towards volunteering.
Our results can also help public relations practitioners who assist NPOs in volunteer recruitment. Changes in the economy are beginning to increase NPO reliance on a strong and consistent volunteer base to support the mission and achieve organizational goals (Farmer & Fedor, 1999). Given that individuals are more likely to volunteer when possessing positive attitudes toward volunteering as well as a level of control over the behavior, public relations practitioners can incorporate these ideas into promotional materials when trying to recruit volunteers for NPOs. One tactic PR practitioners can use is to identify attitudes of community members in regards to volunteering and make attempts to reinforce positive attitudes through the messages that they create. Another strategy PR practitioners can adopt is to clearly communicate what makes a “good” volunteer “good.” In promotional materials, practitioners can identify the type of volunteer that the organization is looking for and, perhaps, can include statistics mentioning the financial equivalent of volunteer contributions. This may encourage individuals who are uncertain about skills and resources to engage in volunteerism. Many organizations, when soliciting financial donations, communicate how even the smallest contribution can help fulfill their mission. While NPOs could use this in soliciting financial donations, practitioners could also adapt this message when recruiting volunteers.
Strengths & Limitations Like any study, this study has both strengths and weaknesses. One of the main strengths of the study is that it helps explore the effects of the civic engagement movement on college campuses. With the prevalence of civic engagement movements in academic institutions, it is important to understand what these projects do to help in developing volunteers for the future.
Regarding our current understanding, although we found a positive relationship between having to volunteer for a class in the past and current volunteering behaviors, it was interesting that there was no effect on intentions to volunteer in the future. An additional strength of the study was its focus on civic engagement within the classroom. As discussed earlier, civic engagement components can be found both inside and outside of the classroom, especially in student organizations. However, students are able to learn more about student organizations prior to joining and willingly choose to become involved with them. With college courses, it is possible 690 that students may only have a basic familiarity with the structure of the course prior to enrolling.
Even then, some courses with volunteer components may be required for the student, whether to fulfill general education requirements or course credit to their major area of concentration.
There are also some limitations that are important to highlight. Because a majority of the participants were freshmen, this may decrease the chance of their having prior experiences with civic engagement in courses. Many, if not all, of the introductory courses at the university chosen for the study are larger lecture courses and, as a result, may not be conducive to incorporating group projects related to volunteerism or community service. Additionally, one of the theories used in the study, the theory of planned behavior, incorporates a variable that was not addressed in the survey: behavioral intentions. The theory indicates that while attitudes, subjective beliefs, and perceived control over the behavior (the variables tested in each of the three hypotheses) are effective predictors of behavior performance, they are indirect predictors and the strongest predictor of behavior is the intention to perform it. The current study did not provide a way to measure intentions to volunteer and instead only tested whether there was a relationship between each of the components and volunteering behavior. As a result, the research may not provide a thorough enough evaluation of the hypotheses. Finally, having collected data only at one point in time can also affect our results. Thus future research should collect data in a longitudinal way to help see the effects across time.
Future Research While the study provided insight into what may predict volunteerism, future research could test similar hypotheses in different volunteering contexts. First, it may be of interest to understand what may predict volunteerism within the workplace, or the performance of OCBs.
Similar to civic engagement movements, corporate social responsibility is becoming a top way for organizations and companies to brand them in a socially responsible light, and these behaviors may be helpful in developing a solid organizational reputation. This would also be an interesting context for future research because the pressure from an employer could represent an external force similar to that of the volunteerism requirement set by instructors. Additionally, working professionals may have more experience with volunteering than college students, and may possess more sufficient skills, including time and money, for NPOs. It may also be interesting to examine whether programming volunteers are motivated in ways different from associational volunteers. Research has suggested that these “types” of volunteers are unique in their roles and how they help NPOs, so understanding the motivating factors could also help public relations practitioners in recruiting different types of volunteers. Finally, future research could incorporate a measurement of behavioral intentions, to test the strength of the relationship between intentions to volunteer and engaging in volunteerism behavior.
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