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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

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OHIO recognized for engaging students through learning communities, faculty relationships


A new national study shows that greater learning and engagement stemmed from inclusive practices on college campuses – an area of strength for Ohio University.

The National Survey of Student Engagement recently released its 2017 results. The survey showed that students in courses with more inclusive classroom practices reported greater emphasis on higher-order learning, engaged more in reflective and integrative learning, perceived greater institutional contributions to their learning and development, and had more favorable perceptions of institutional support.

Ohio University scored well against peer institutions in several key areas, including participating in learning communities or similar programs and in interacting with faculty members, particularly about future career plans. The University also scored well with regard to encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds and trying to understand their perspectives.

“Ohio University places a premium on ensuring every student learns the power of diversity, from learning the viewpoints and motivations of others to examining their own through a new prism,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “We instill those values at every opportunity and are heartened to see the positive results of those efforts.”

The NSSE study showed that 35 percent more first-year students and 24 percent more seniors participated in a learning community than those at peer institutions. Overall, it showed that 19 percent more first-year students engaged in at least one high-impact practice, and 15 percent more participated in two or more of the six NSSE surveyed, than at peer institutions.

OHIO offers learning community experiences to incoming first-year students who take a common set of courses together or share a common experience around their academics. The goal is to create learning-based peer networks, improve academic success of first-year students, improve student retention to sophomore year, increase student satisfaction with Ohio University, and increase student-faculty interaction outside the classroom.

Ohio University has proven itself to be a leader in the area of inclusion and student engagement. The University has a robust first-generation student support program, the OHIO First Scholars program, designed to help first-generation students acclimate to and excel in collegiate life. First Scholars have access to additional academic advising, faculty and staff advocates, tutoring services and a variety of other options.

“Students don’t have to participate in all we offer to be an OHIO First Scholar,” said Angela Lash, Associate Director of the Allen Student Advising Center and the coordinator of the First Scholars program. “There are some components of our program, like access to free tutoring and regular communication from our program, in which I automatically enroll students. There are other aspects that students can participate in if they choose, such as our student organization, mentoring program, or seminar course. I purposely created various ways to be involved in order to engage as many first-gen students as possible.”

Similarly, multicultural students have access to mentoring, tutoring, and support services as they adjust to college life. The Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention offers many of these services and more to its 1,500 students each year. The University actively celebrates diversity in all its forms, working to ensure every student can feel at home at OHIO.

“We work to embrace our differences and celebrate the multitude of cultures, religions, sexual orientations, abilities and socioeconomic levels that exist on our campuses,” said Dr. Jason Pina, Vice President of Student Affairs and the Interim Chief Diversity Officer.

OHIO students are also empowered to be engaged at all levels. The University’s Center for Entrepreneurship was honored with the 2017 Deshpande Symposium Award for Excellence in Student Engagement and Entrepreneurship. The award is a national recognition that honors student leadership and engagement in developing innovative extra- and co-curricular activities that support the development of entrepreneurial awareness, skills and practice.

“Student engagement is central to everything we do. Student initiative and action is part of what we see as most valuable in entrepreneurship education and this achievement puts us amongst the best programs,” said Luke Pittaway, chair of Ohio University’s Management Department.