New Research About the Perceived Benefits of Service in a Corps: a Corpsmember Perspective

Photo taken from the Urban Corps of San Diego Facebook page.

Jayne Smith, the former director of Urban Corps of San Diego’s Counseling Clinic, recently completed her doctoral dissertation on the kinds of outcomes Corpsmembers report experiencing after their service in a Corps program (specifically, Urban Corps of San Diego - UCO). Overall, Jayne found that the Corpsmembers in her study had very positive experiences; among other things, they largely reported having learned important skills, learned about themselves, and gained newfound confidence during their service in UCO. 

For her study, Jayne used a qualitative research approach and interviewed 15 former Urban Corps members who graduated between the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2010. This time range was selected to overlap with the time period during which Jayne was employed by UCO, and to allow Corpsmembers a period of time after their graduation to pursue jobs or educational opportunities and reflect on the Corps experience.

As Jayne states, the goal of her study “…was to better understand the Corpsmember process of change and long-term outcomes from the perspective of UCO graduates.” Through collecting over 13 hours of interviews with the 15 graduates, Jayne developed a picture of what Corpsmembers thought about their service in UCO and what they perceived as the personal benefits of such service. Her research also looks at the factors that could potentially affect whether a Corpsmember reported having a positive Corps experience and positive outcomes. The study includes suggestion for ways to develop Corps programs that better serve Corpsmembers and help them attain these favorable results.

Click here to read the full Executive Summary of her dissertation, “A Consensual Qualitative Research Study of the Transformation from High School Dropout to Graduate: Corpsmember Outcomes and Influencing Factors.”

Here are a few of the study’s key findings:   

  • 100% reported learning academic and professional skills, with 14 out of the 15 participants reporting having used such skills post program
  • 93.33% reported “positive attitudinal and behavioral changes across time”
  • 80% reported being employed in at least temporary/part-time jobs
  • 14 out of 15 former Corpsmembers stated that they learned how to be more serious
  • 86.67% reported that they learned not to be afraid to try new things
  • Over 93.33% stated that the Corps staff, teachers and environment were “positive, supportive and caring”
  • “Issues with family, gangs, education, money, personal, education and specific academic organizationswere reported at a decreased frequency while Corpsmembers were in the program.”
  • Participants who compared their experience with UCO with their experience in traditional high schools all reported having more favorable experiences with UCO