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ERIC Number: ED528314
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 230
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-1563-6
Inspiring the Life of the Mind: An Examination of the Roles of Residential College Environments and Motivational Attributes in Promoting Undergraduate Students' Inclination to Inquire and Capacity for Lifelong Learning
Jessup-Anger, Jody E.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
As postsecondary education is promoted as necessary for participating in the 21st century knowledge economy, academics, policymakers, and the public have voiced concerns about the quality and coherence of undergraduate education (AAC & U, 2007; Barr and Tagg, 1995; U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Critics point to the size, scope, and multiple missions of large, public research universities as contributing to students' feelings of anonymity, disengagement, and disconnection from faculty (Astir, 1993; Boyer, 1987; Gaff, 1970; Gamson, 2000; Guskin, 1994; Hawkins, 1999). University administrators increasingly turn to residential colleges and other types of living-learning programs to address the size and scale conundrum facing large research universities. By creating smaller enclaves of students living together initially, taking part in a shared educational endeavor, and using resources within their environment that stress academics (Inkelas, Zeller, Murphy, & Hummel, 2006), administrators and faculty purport to create the atmosphere of a small liberal arts college while still offering students the resources of a large university (Magolda, 1994; Schuman, 2005). Despite this claim, virtually no attention has been paid to whether and how these environments promote values associated with a liberal arts education, including whether they deepen students' inclination to inquire and capacity for lifelong learning. Identified by the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College as one distinctive outcome of a liberal arts education, having a deep inclination to inquire suggests that a student has a strong desire to learn and continues to pursue intellectual growth. Closely connected to students' inclination to inquire, is their capacity for lifelong learning, defined by Hayek and Kuh (1999) as students' ability to ""learn to learn" and interact effectively with others in a complex, information-based society" (p. 4). In the current study, I used Moos' social-ecological framework, which accounts for environmental context and individual characteristics (Moos, 1976, 1979, 1986), to examine how students' attributes (including their motivation and other sociodemographic characteristics) and residential college environments were associated with students' inclination to inquire and capacity for lifelong learning. With data collected from over 1800 undergraduate students in 24 residential colleges at 10 research universities across the United States, I used hierarchical linear modeling techniques to ascertain the statistically significant individual, contextual, and cross-level associations of variables with students' inclination to inquire and capacity for lifelong learning. I found that a statistically significant amount of variation students' inclination to inquire and capacity for lifelong learning was attributable to students' residential college environment and that much of the variation was explained by the liberal arts emphasis of the residential college environment. Specifically, an ethos marked by academic challenge and high expectations was associated with a deepened inclination to inquire and an ethos marked by out-of-class interactions with faculty was associated with a deepened capacity for lifelong learning. Furthermore, students' motivational attributes and desire to obtain more than a bachelor's degree were also associated both outcome variables. Implications for theory, research, practice, and policy are discussed. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A