Sense of place and student engagement among undergraduate students at a major public research university

Okoli, Daniel T., author
Banning, James, advisor
Gloeckner, Gene, committee member
Anderson, Sharon, committee member
Clemons, Stephanie, committee member
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The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between sense of place and student engagement among undergraduate students, in order to influence how higher education institutions view the role of the physical environment in fostering student engagement, learning, and personal development. Student engagement, a very important predictor of student learning, deals with the notion that when students and their institutions invest the time, effort, and resources in academically purposeful activities in college, the students become more engaged and learn more. Sense of place, an attitude to the physical environment, refers to the emotional bond that exists between individuals and a geographic or physical location. There is suggestion in the literature that sense of place is related to student engagement but no empirical studies were found that linked the two constructs; and instrument for assessing student engagement do not contain items that are specifically designed to measure sense of place or students' attitudes to the physical environment of their college campuses. Data for this quantitative study employing a non-experimental cross-sectional survey method were gathered with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) instrument modified to include sense of place and other items. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted on the 70 Likert-style items of the 85-item instrument (n = 358) and yielded 13 factors with Cronbach's alpha ranging from 0.57 for High Impact Practices to 0.92 for Sense of Place. Cronbach's alpha for overall instrument was 0.93. A statistically significant correlation was found between sense of place and student engagement (r(413) = .43, p<.001). Based on simultaneous multiple regression analysis, the linear combination of variables: sense of place, campus design, gender, racial/ethnic identity, and enrollment status (full-time/part-time), predicted student engagement, F(5,346) = 24.88, p < .001 with all five variables significantly contributing to the prediction. The adjusted R squared value was .256 indicating that 25.6% of the variance in student engagement was explained by the model.
2013 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.
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campus design
student engagement
sense of place
place attachment
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