Community and campus culture: out-of-class involvement at a midwest liberal arts college
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The time students spend outside the classroom "profoundly shapes the form and quality" (Boyer, 1987, pp. 292-293) of their undergraduate experiences. Out-of-class opportunities can challenge students to broaden their educational interests, engage themselves in their own education, and learn to take responsibility for their own actions. Out-of-class opportunities also can enhance growth in students' self-confidence, leadership, empathy, social responsibility, and understanding and appreciation of cultural and intellectual differences. This study examined and described students' out-of-class involvement opportunities at a midwest liberal arts college, as well as the factors and conditions that influence involvement;The methods of inquiry for this study were qualitative. Data were collected through interviews, observations, and document analysis, with data collection and analysis conducted concurrently;The findings of this study included: (a) the campus culture is the primary influence on student involvement outside the classroom; (b) this campus culture is manifested through a very strong sense of campus community; (c) the campus environment is familiar to most students--that is, it is similar to their home environments; (d) the campus environment is homogeneous--that is, the vast majority of students are Caucasian Christians from Iowa; (e) the familiar environment and homogeneous environment have a significant influence on both the institutional culture and student culture, thus have a great influence on student involvement; (f) the student culture can perpetuate a sense of passivity in its students; (g) the institutional culture does not sufficiently challenge students.