William Paterson University is committed to ensuring that our programming successfully supports civic engagement as called for in our Mission, Values, and Strategic Plan. We assess the effectiveness of our programs in several ways.

Participation as a Measure of Student Engagement

There are different levels of civic engagement ranging from participation in a food drive, to assuming a leadership role in the organization and implementation of a service activity or program. The development of civically engaged citizens is a process – incorporating activities and experiences that build upon one another, beginning with basic or lower levels of involvement and culminating with more intensive, higher level experiences that lead to significant learning and community impact. As such, our civic engagement activities are classified as either low to mid-level or high level.

High level civic engagement activities require, at a minimum, an element of student reflection—it is not sufficient simply to do, it is also required to think and reflect upon what we do, why we do it, and what impact we have when we participate in civic engagement activities. Examples include:

  • Curricular based service learning – UCC Area 5, capstone courses with service-learning components (Public Health student research projects, etc.)
  • Co-curricular service learning activities – Alternate Spring Break, Martin Luther King Day of Service activities, Pioneer Leadership Institute (PLI)
  • Learning communities and living learning communities with a significant civic/service component
  • Study abroad (with a service component)
  • Campus or community leadership positions that include a significant service and reflection component
  • A cluster or series of linked activities with an overarching theme or purpose

Low- to mid-level civic engagement activities require, at a minimum, student participation in an activity that is of benefit to others.

  • Drives, collections, etc.
  • Breast Cancer Walk
  • Greek and student athlete service activities
  • Pioneer Ventures – pre-class activity for new students
  • Volunteering/community service – clean ups, Father English activities, Boys and Girls Club, etc.
  • American Democracy Project (ADP) activities
Participation Benchmarks

The University has established benchmarks for student participation and measures this participation through the Pioneer Life Digital Badge System. Upon achieving these benchmarks, a student is awarded the Civic Engagement Digital Badge.

We expect that 75 percent of all first time entering students will meet all of the following criteria:

  • successfully complete the Core Curriculum Area 5 requirement before graduation.
  • participate in at least two low to mid-level civic engagement activities during their first two years at WP.
  • participate in at least two high level civic engagement activities before graduation.

We expect that 70 percent of all transfer students will meet all of the following criteria:

  • successfully complete University Core Curriculum Area 5 requirements before graduation.
  • participate in at least one low to mid-level civic engagement activity during their first year at WP.
  • participate in at least one high level civic engagement activity before graduation.
Civic Engagement Badge

The Civic Engagement badge is designed to assist students with meeting and tracking their progress in achieving the university’s civic engagement participation expectations of completing two low and two high level activities before graduation. WP LEADS supports the university’s Civic Engagement initiative to encourage every student to become more civically minded and engaged through participation in their UCC5 course, and in several low and high level civic engagement extra-curricular experiences. The Civic Engagement Badge is administered by Campus Activities, Service and Leadership.

 Outcomes: Students who participate in the Civic Engagement badge will:

  • Become civically engaged so that upon graduation they will have had experiences that include service, advocacy, citizenship, voting and political debate.
  • Participate in high and low level civic engagement co-curricular activities, with opportunities both on and off campus.
  • Assess their learning and understanding of civic issues and the impact of their involvement on self and the community.


  • Complete two (2) low level civic engagement activities.
  • Complete two (2) high level civic engagement activities with reflection / assessment.
National Survey of Student Engagement

William Paterson University participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) every other year. Relevant NSSE questions ask students to report on topics such as: how much their courses connected learning to societal problems or issues; how many courses included a service learning component; how much does their institution emphasize attendance at events addressing social, economic or political issues; how many hours per week do they spend doing community service or volunteering and how has their college or university experience helped them develop skills for solving complex real-world problems and helped them become informed and active citizens.

In addition, William Paterson also participated in the NSSE Civic Engagement supplemental module. Adapted from a pilot survey that was developed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, this module asks students to assess their conflict resolution skills and examines how often students have engaged with local or campus and state/national/global issues. The module complements questions on the core survey about service-learning, community service or volunteer work, and becoming an informed and active citizen.

National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement

William Paterson University also participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). The NSLVE is a project of the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. The following statement from their website explains clearly the value of participating in the study:

In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Education issued a “call to action” challenging colleges and universities to support academic programs and experiences designed to increase student civic learning and engagement in democracy. Many campuses already support civic learning experiences. We know very little, however, about whether these experiences increase the knowledge, skills, and commitment students will need to engage in democracy, in politics, policy making, and social action. Voting is by no means the only indicator of civic engagement, but it is fundamental. Studying the voting rates of students provides an important measure that can catalyze improvements in academic programs and co-curricular experiences.

University Core Curriculum Assessment

Assessment relevant for the University-wide commitment to community and civic engagement is embedded within the University Core Curriculum Assessment. All components of the UCC are assessed on a regular cycle using a wide range of direct and indirect measures. The results of these assessments are used to modify the UCC program, including the community and civic engagement component.