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Subject:

What Influences Student Attitudes toward a Course?/Where Are the Boys?: 2 short ones

From:

Dan Kern <[log in to unmask]>

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[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 06:31:36 -0600

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multipart/related

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What Influences Student Attitudes toward a Course?


November 2006 


  _____  

The first and most obvious answer is the instructor. Much previous research
establishes the powerful ways instructors influence how students respond to
and in a course. But two researchers wondered if the instructor was the only
factor influencing student attitudes. Drawing from work in their discipline,
services marketing and management, they extrapolated seven factors that
might be significant determinants of student attitudes. Using a complex
statistical model, they tested the seven factors and found that four of them
explained 77 percent of the variations in attitude toward the course:
instructor, course topic, course execution, and the room (physical
environment).

They write of these findings: "An important result is that there are
significant factors, in addition to the instructor, at work shaping a
student's attitude toward a class that he or she may take. The model shows
that course topic has just as strong an influence on attitudes as does the
instructor." (p. 144) Only required courses were included in the study. They
covered topics about which students had a range of interests, from not being
interested at all to the course topic being introductory to a major. The
researchers point out that if the subject matter of a course influences how
students relate to a course, then their level of interest ought to be
acknowledged as a contributing factor on course evaluations. At this time
most course evaluations focus exclusively on instructor-related variables.

Equally interesting in this work are those other factors not found to
influence student attitudes toward courses. For example, the student him- or
herself was not found to significantly contribute toward attitude about the
course. The researchers explain why they were surprised by this finding.
"Given the emphasis some educators place on encouraging students to take
ownership of their education, it was surprising to find that, overall, this
group of students did not see themselves as being instrumental in shaping
their own education experience." (p. 146) What the findings confirm is that
students (at least those in this cohort) do not understand that they are at
least partially responsible for what happens to them in courses. It seems to
reconfirm the extremely passive orientation many students take toward
knowledge acquisition.

Also surprising was that fact that other students were not seen as a factor
influencing student attitudes. This means that "educators cannot assume that
students will automatically appreciate the value of the diverse student
population that takes a given college course together." (p. 146)

Finally, in a follow-up analysis that explored some of the factors related
to course execution (which these researchers defined as overall design and
conduct of the course), there was confirmation for some facts about
participation many of us have observed in our individual classrooms.
"Students in classes where participation was expected and graded were
significantly more likely to prepare for class, attend class, and commit to
excellence. Students in those classes where participation was emphasized
were also significantly more likely to value the contributions that other
students make to their learning experiences." (p. 146)

Reference: Curran, J. M. and Rosen, D. E. (2006). Student attitudes toward
college courses: An examination of influences and intentions. Journal of
Marketing Education, 28 (2), 135-

Source:
http://www.magnapubs.com/issues/magnapubs_ff/3_11/news/599561-1.html?s=FF
<http://www.magnapubs.com/issues/magnapubs_ff/3_11/news/599561-1.html?s=FF&p
=MFCFEZ> &p=MFCFEZ

 

 


Where Are the Boys?


November 2006 
By John N. McDaniel, PhD 


  _____  

Seasoned academic leaders of a certain vintage will remember wistfully that
innocent paean to spring break, "Where the Boys Are," crooned by Connie
Francis, in those halcyon pre-protest early '60s, when the ladies' eyes
would wander to the Florida coasts before they returned to the rigors of
campus life. But that was then, and this is now. The beaches aren't boyless,
but the campuses increasingly are, and there are distressing defections to
other venues of a nonacademic sort.

In decades past, enrollment demographics told a different tale and asked a
different question: Where are the girls and the minorities? With aggressive
recruitment and financial-aid packages crafted to encourage female and
minority matriculation at colleges nationwide, a discernible and pleasing
shift has gradually taken place. Despite periodic assaults on affirmative
action initiatives and occasional dips in enrollments at the nearly 60
women's colleges now extant in the United States, there has been a
relatively robust growth in minority and female college enrollment. But
where are the boys?

A recent New York Times article lamented the deaths of the Yale Man, the
Dartmouth Man, and the Virginia Gentleman, while noting that men's colleges
have dwindled from approximately 250 in operation in the early '60s to
today's "Final Four": Hampden-Sydney, Wabash, Morehouse, and a two-year
institution, Deep Springs. Nationally, women now constitute 57 percent of
college students, and the percentage is on the rise. This has caused a
corresponding rise in an unexpected conundrum for college recruiters and
admissions officers: How to right-size the male-female balance by going
after (imagine!) the reluctant and disappearing male. Not reviving Ophelia,
but re-energizing the hesitant Hamlet. To attend or not to attend-there's
the rub.

This surprising development raises the following questions for academic
leaders to ponder, perhaps for the first time in the history of American
higher education:

1. Since there is no significant decrease in the male population in America,
why have men turned to places beyond or other than the college campus?

2. Are there inducements available to campus recruitment officers to lure
hesitant Hamlets to be (rather than not to be) college students?

3. Where are male prospects to be found in these days of occupational "hidey
holes" of unknown location? Where shall the manhunt begin in this new terra
incognita?

4. Will recent experiments in all-male public secondary schools have an
impact on male enrollment in general and men's colleges in particular? Are
there more Hampden-Sydneys and Wabashes on the horizon? 

Meanwhile, where are the boys? For today's academic leaders, that is indeed
the question.

Send your comments to mailto:[log in to unmask]

John N. McDaniel is dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Middle Tennessee
State University. He can be contacted at mailto:[log in to unmask] 

Source:
http://www.magnapubs.com/issues/magnapubs_ff/3_11/news/599563-1.html?s=FF
<http://www.magnapubs.com/issues/magnapubs_ff/3_11/news/599563-1.html?s=FF&p
=MFCFEZ> &p=MFCFEZ

Both articles from: Faculty Focus e-newsletter:  Volume 3, Issue 11:
November 15, 2006

 


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