Urban universities student characteristics and engagement
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Urban Universities: Student Characteristics and Engagement. Donna Hawley Martha Shawver. Exploratory Project Objectives. Explore selected characteristics of the students attending an urban university as they may relate to 15 aggregated engagement scores (called Scalelets)

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Exploratory project objectives l.jpg
Exploratory Project Objectives

  • Explore selected characteristics of the students attending an urban university as they may relate to 15 aggregated engagement scores (called Scalelets)

  • Stimulate discussion among and about urban universities and engagement

  • Consider additional work


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Sequence

  • Urban universities and NSSE scores

  • Possible areas of difference between urban schools and total NSSE participants

  • The Urban Consortium

  • Characteristics of students reviewed for this project

  • Scalelets as developed by Gary Pike

  • Results

  • Discussion


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Urban Universities

  • Located in an economically and socially diverse urban area

  • Serves a diverse student body with high percentages of part time, commuting and ‘older’ students

  • Educational activities are closely linked to the city’s business, industry, and culture with an interaction that is viewed as mutually beneficial.


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NSSE Engagement

  • Scores from urban schools are different from the total NSSE sample (2005)

  • Differences are minimal for many items

  • Conventional thought is that many differences may be related to characteristics of students who attend urban schools


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Examples of differences between urban and other universities

  • Areas of time usage

    • Employment

    • Participation in co-curricular activities

    • Care of dependents

    • Commuting to campus

  • Activities outside the classroom

    • Working on committees

    • Attending events

    • Using services




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Urban Consortium

  • NSSE encourages participants to form consortia

    • To ask “additional context-and-mission specific questions”

    • To share ideas, issues and questions

    • Comparative aggregate results

  • One such consortium is the urban universities


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Urban Consortium Questions

  • Time commitments and issues related to community, family, employment that may affect one’s education, including time to degree and hours enrolled

  • Financial issues

  • Career goals and desired outcomes from the degree program

  • Satisfaction with academic and family support


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Methodology

  • 12 dichotomous groups were formed using student characteristics (i.e. demographic, academic, enrollment, time usage) that may affect engagement

  • Characteristics were based on questions from the Urban Consortium and selected NSSE items

  • The 12 groups were compared for each of the 15 scalelets as developed by Pike (2006)

  • Only one institution was used


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Methodology (cont.)

  • Only seniors (N=273) are included due to their more extensive experience with the university

  • 2005 NSSE results

  • Means for the 15 scalelets for each group were calculated

  • The differences by each group were determined by t-test

  • Effect sizes were calculated (difference between two means/pooled standard deviation) for those with significant p values


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Demographic Characteristics

  • Nontraditional (age): 50% of seniors are over 25 years

  • First generation: 37% of seniors have parents who did not attend college.

  • Commuter: 91% of seniors commute by car to campus

  • Low income: 46% seniors report family incomes<25,000


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Characteristics by Time Usage

  • Employed off campus:

    47% work >15 hours per week

    30.0% do not work off campus and another 30% work more than 30 hours per week

  • On Campus Hours: 28% spend more than 5 hours per week on campus outside of class

  • Community Service: 50% spend some hours per week in community activities


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Enrollment Characteristics

  • Native Student: <=15 transfer hours. 31% have less than 15 transfer hours

  • Full time Enrollment: 34% report always enrolling full time. (60% were enrolled full time in spring 2005)

  • Time to degree: 67% report <=6 years


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Academic Characteristics

  • ACT Composite:

    62% >=22

    25% of seniors do not have an ACT score

  • Delay: 27% report that family commitments could delay their graduation


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NSSE Scalelets*

  • A set of items that collectively relate to a specific concept or educational experience

  • Limited number of items

  • Pike’s research supports that the scalelets yield dependable scores based on samples of 25-50

  • Scalelets are subsets of the NSSE benchmarks plus outcome measures

*Pike, GR. The Convergent and Discriminant Validity of NSSE Scalelet Scores, Journal of College Student Development,

47:5, 2006.


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Academic Challenge

Course Challenge (5)

Writing (5)

Higher-Order Thinking Skills (5)

Active/Collaborative

Active Learning (3)

Collaborative Learning (4)

Interaction - Faculty

Course interaction (3)

Out-of-Class (3)

Enriching Experiences

Varied Experiences (9)

Information Technology (3)

Diversity (3)

Supportive Campus

Student Success (3)

Interpersonal environ. (3)

Outcome Measures

Practical Skills (3)

General Education (4)

The Scalelets


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Effect Sizes

  • Standardized difference between two means score

  • NSSE authors call it “practical significance”

  • Generally

    0.20 small effect

    0.50 medium effect

    0.80 large effect


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Results

  • There were no differences between:

    • Native vs. Transfer students

    • First generation vs. those with college educated parents

    • Incomes >25,000 vs. those <25,000

  • The magnitude of differences between all groups was small

  • Effect sizes were small to moderate


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Results

  • Nontraditional students (>25) were less likely to participate in out of class activities (.47) and varied learning experiences (.24) than their younger peers

  • Students reporting that they always enrolled full time reported that their courses involved more higher-order thinking skills (.44) and more collaborative learning (.33) than those enrolling part time


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Students planning for degree completion in 6 years compared to taking longer

Participated in varied learning activities (.35)

Work with faculty outside of class (.34)

Reported more gains in practical skills (.34) and from general education (.33)

Act score >=22 compared to those with lower scores

Reported their courses as more challenging (.40) and involving writing (.38)

Were involved in active learning activities (.49) and course interaction (.37)

Time to Degree and ACT


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Results: Commuter students compared to those living on or near campus*

  • Less likely to participate in activities in and outside of class:

    • Collaborate (.49) with other students

    • Work with faculty outside class (.70)

    • Participate in varied experiences (.63)

    • Have conversations with those from other race or ethnic or cultural groups (.63)

  • Less likely to see the campus as supportive (.63)

  • Less likely to establish relationships with students, faculty and administrators (.54)

*Commuter students >90% of seniors


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Results: Students spending more than 5 hours per week (28%) on campus outside of class compared to those with 0-5 hours.

  • More likely participate in activities in and outside of class:

    • Course interaction about grades, readings, feedback (.44)

    • Work with faculty outside class (.70)

    • Participate in varied experiences (.46)

    • Have conversations with those from other race or ethnic or cultural groups (.50)

  • More likely to see courses as challenging (.38)


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Results: Students doing any community service compared to those doing none (50%)

  • More likely to participate in activities in and outside of class:

    • Course interaction about grades, readings, feedback (.30)

    • Work with faculty outside class (.40)

    • Participate in varied experiences (.64)

    • Have conversations with those from other race or ethnic or cultural groups (.28)

  • More likely to see their courses as involving writing (.27), higher order learning (.28 challenging (.38), and actively participate in classes (.40)


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Limitations those doing none (50%)

  • Only one school

  • Only one year

  • Only seniors

  • Intercorrelations between characteristics studied are common

  • Multivariate analyses should be considered

  • Other factors not considered may be important


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Conclusion and Discussion those doing none (50%)

  • Students who do not work, live on campus, are young, have higher ACT scores, enroll full time, and spend time on campus outside of class are more engaged than other students at one urban university.

  • While the differences between the groups studied are moderate based on effect size, additional consideration of these issues would be of interest.