A case study evaluation of students' academic and social engagement in a residence -based, interdisciplinary honors learning community
This program evaluation examined the academic and social experiences of students enrolled in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's J. D. Edwards Honors Program in Computer Science and Management (JDEHP), a residence-based learning community. The theoretical framework for the evaluation was grounded in learning community, student involvement, and student engagement theories and research. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data. JDEHP students, faculty, Program administrators, and corporate stakeholders participated in individual or focus group interviews during the spring 2005 semester. An online version of The College Student Report (National Survey of Student Engagement) assessed students' levels of engagement in the Program.
Overall, JDEHP students rated their academic experiences as " good" to "excellent," and perceived the Program as intellectually challenging; however, students indicated the Program did not provide enough support to thrive socially. Freshmen were more frequently engaged in academically challenging activities and in active/collaborative learning than were their upper-level classmates. Freshmen also perceived the JDEHP community as significantly more supportive than did sophomores or juniors and were significantly more satisfied with their academic experiences than were sophomores.
JDEHP freshmen and seniors differed significantly from two comparative sub-samples of other freshmen and seniors majoring in business and computer science and the general campus student population who responded to the University-administered 2004 The College Student Report. JDEHP students were more engaged in academically challenging activities, active and collaborative learning activities, and student faculty interactions than both comparative samples. JDEHP students reported significantly fewer gains in personal and social development; however, JDEHP students reported significantly greater gains in analytical, quantitative, and work-related skills than did the comparative samples. Corporate stakeholders interviewed believed that the Program was successful in developing leaders for information technology-driven industries.
Among the recommendations suggested for improving the JDEHP were to (a) hire a full-time, dedicated corps of faculty to improve curricular integration and academic support, and (b) create an intentional social support system for students.
0745: Higher education