NCC Participates in Scholarship and Learning Program

Posted: April 23, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

New Century College (NCC) was visited this month by a team of researchers conducting a three-year study on academic and student affairs partnerships throughout the nation. As one of eight programs from universities across the country chosen for the second phase of the Boyer Partnership Assessment Project (BPAP), NCC had an opportunity to show off its unique relationship between academic affairs and university life.

“NCC is the most comprehensive program the Boyer team looked at,” says Janette Muir, associate dean. “Most similar programs are focused on a student’s freshman year. Our program includes the First Year Experience, learning communities, and experiential learning opportunities. We offer two flexible degree paths. It is a unique model, and the team learned a great deal when they were here. They were impressed with our energy and the commitment from faculty and students.”

Funded by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), the Boyer project focuses on student learning, perceptions of faculty and student affairs professionals, and the social history of the partnership. The Boyer Center is located at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.

During their visit to NCC, representatives from the project sat in on a few NCC classes and attended the annual spring festival. They met with focus groups of students, teachers, staff, and alumni to talk about how academics and social life partner-what works and what doesn’t. They learned about the Center for Service and Leadership and the Center for Field Studies, which offer opportunities such as field study, study abroad, internships, and Alternative Spring Break-a service learning “vacation” that can be taken for credit. The team also learned about NCC’s summer reading program, in which all incoming students read the same text, attend seminars on the text, and discuss the themes and ideas in small groups during the semester.

One of the main reasons BPAP chose NCC to include in its study was the interdisciplinary first-year program. Stepping outside the traditional classroom, first-year students at NCC combine classroom knowledge with the workplace and cultural and physical environments. The program satisfies the general education requirements for most majors by integrating material from many disciplines into four distinctive, sequential courses. Students meet in an intensive format of four hours a day for four days a week. They take four 8-credit classes with the same cohort, and some social activities may be an extension of their classes. Extracurricular activities may include movie nights, field trips, or pizza and study sessions, and are often hosted by professors. These activities often take place on NCC’s new Living/Learning floor in the residential hall.

BPAP will share the results of their study this fall. The team will compile data they’ve gathered from all participating universities and write a report on the strengths and challenges for the programs. The results will be published in academic journals, presented at national conferences, and posted on the project’s web site.

“The dissemination of this work is an important part of the Boyer Center’s mission to provide good examples of Ernest Boyer’s expanded definitions of academic scholarship, which include teaching and learning applications as significant forms of scholarly activity,” Muir says.

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