Author(s)

Patricia Zobel

Date Approved

8-7-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Walpole, MaryBeth

Subject(s)

Women engineering students;Student housing;College freshmen;Minority college students

Disciplines

Higher Education Administration

Abstract

The purpose of this action research study was to examine the effects of an Engineering Living and Learning Community (ELLC) comprised of minority, female, and low-income engineering students and their perceptions of their first-year experience regarding their transition to college, their peer-to-peer and peer-to-faculty relationships, and their connection to campus. This study explored the impact of the creation of the ELLC and the researcher's evolution as a leader during the process. Hinchey (2008) defines action research as a process of systematic inquiry usually cyclical, conducted by those inside a community with the goal to identify action that will generate some improvement (p. 4). Using the action research paradigm, this study investigated the experiences of 45 participants at Virginia Smith University, a four-year, mid-sized, suburban, public university in the mid-Atlantic region during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years. Students perceptions regarding their transition to college, peer and faculty relationships, and their connection to campus were assessed using a mixed methods approach. This study incorporated a two-phase process, starting with the evaluation of the Engineering Living and Learning Community in the pilot fall semester in 2009 and then assessed the implementation and evaluation of changes to the program based on the results from the data collected. Results indicated that both the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 ELLC cohorts' first-year experience regarding their transition to college, peer-to-peer and peer-to-faculty relationships, and their connection to campus were all improved because of their participation in the Engineering Living and Learning Community program.

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