Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Nancy N. Heilbronner, PhD

Second Advisor

Joseph S. Renzulli, EdD

Third Advisor

Michael Hibbard, PhD


This study examined the impact of different volunteer experiences on the development of social capital. The study was grounded in Renzulli’s Operation Houndstooth Intervention Theory, which hypothesizes that six co-cognitive factors are associated with the development of students’ social capital, and that volunteer experiences in which students help others (Direct Involvement I) and take active leadership roles (Direct Involvement II) may be most effective at developing social capital.

A sample of convenience, juniors and seniors attending an urban high school in the northeastern U.S., was utilized. Students participated for 16 weeks in one of three programs: (a) a Peer Leadership Program in which they planned a Direct Involvement II project (treatment), (b) a volunteer organization in which they participated in Direct Involvement I activities (comparison), and (c) an Early College Entrance Class that participated in no direct volunteer activities (control). Pretest and posttest data were collected utilizing the Operation Houndstooth Intervention Survey which included subscales to measure each of the co-cognitive factors. Posttest data were analyzed using a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) to determine if there was a significant difference in mean scores between students who participated in the three groups. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the extent to which the factor Romance with a Topic or Discipline predicted the remaining factors. Qualitative methods were used to analyze open-ended items related to students’ perceptions of their Direct Involvement I or II experiences.

A significant effect for Program was found (p = .004). Students in the treatment group scored significantly higher on Physical/Mental Energy than students in the control group (p = .015). Students in the comparison group scored significantly higher on Sensitivity to Human Concerns than students in the control group (p = .008) and the treatment group (p = .011). Regression results suggested that pretest mean scores for Romance with a Topic or Discipline did not predict mean posttest scores for the six co-cognitive factors. Qualitative analyses indicated that students in the treatment group viewed their projects in terms of logistical steps to facilitate projects. In contrast, the students in the comparison group viewed their experience in terms of their associations with volunteer recipients.