Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effect of academic content first-year seminars on student engagement in the institutional social system
by Lynn, Angela N., Ph.D., Illinois State University, 2008, 192; 3353092
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the impact of academic content first-year seminars on engagement of first-year students in the social system of Western Illinois University. This study also examined how these seminars may influence student engagement in the institution's social system during the first college year and beyond.

A two-phase sequential mixed methods approach was utilized. The first phase focused on the quantitative analysis of existing data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) completed by first-year students at Western Illinois University during Spring 2005 (n = 478) and Spring 2006 (n = 421). Analysis of the NSSE data found a statistically significant difference in first-year student engagement in the social system of Western Illinois University.

The second phase of the study included semi-structured interviews with 13 students who began at the University during the 2005-2006 academic year and who were enrolled as juniors in Spring 2008. Interview participants described having more personal relationships with their first-year seminar instructors than with other faculty members in their first year. The participants stated the seminar assisted them in making connections with their peers during their first year and helped broaden their experiences and awareness of University resources. Most participants maintained contact with their first-year seminar peers and instructor, even after their first year. Participants reported being involved in a greater number of cocurricular activities after their first college year, which they attributed in part to the academic content first-year seminars.

The findings of this study affirm that academic content first-year seminars are a promising method for improving student engagement in the social system of the institution through increased interaction with faculty in class and out of class, improved student connections with peers, and increased involvement in cocurricular events and activities.

Indexing (document details)
School: Illinois State University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Curriculum development, Higher education
Keywords: Engagement, First-year experience, First-year seminar, Freshman year experience, Freshman year seminar, Social system
Publication Number: 3353092
ISBN: 978-1-109-09301-8
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