This Week's Message
Our work with our Teagle Foundation grant has led to some impressive results the past three years. In the last year, Mike Nolan and Tim Schermer have led work among the six colleges assessing the civic engagement of our students. The early findings are fascinating.
The study included detailed analysis of the curricular and co-curricular offerings at each of the colleges, focus groups on each campus, and a set of standardized instruments including the College Senior Survey. Key questions were:
- What is the reported level of civic engagement by our students as seniors, and do these vary by student type?
- What college experiences of students and institutional characteristics are associated with higher levels of civic engagement skills or dispositions?
- Can we document value-added for civic engagement?
While Mike and Tim will share more in the months ahead, I thought you might be interested in knowing that among the tentative findings are the following:
- Gender does not appear to be a factor in growth in civic engagement except for the self rating of civic skills, where males rate themselves higher.
- There are significant variations by major.
- Ethnic interactions are generally a positive, reinforcing efforts directed toward structural diversity.
- Discussion or interaction with others on issues of politics, religion, gender, or ethnicity is associated with positive CE outcomes.
- Active involvement while in college in groups with a civic related emphasis is a positive.
- An emphasis on civic engagement by the institution is a positive.
As faculty, we might collectively consider how our work contributes to our students' development as citizens. Focus group conversations in the study found that intentional focus on civic engagement by faculty and within classes leads to significant gains. I would welcome your thoughts on how our office might better support efforts by faculty to encourage civic engagement on the part of Augustana students.
Dean of the College