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Practical preparation for a life of good citizenship or just a waste of time? A study of student engagement with the American liberal arts curriculum at an international university in London

Cole-Stutz, Allison; (2020) Practical preparation for a life of good citizenship or just a waste of time? A study of student engagement with the American liberal arts curriculum at an international university in London. Doctoral thesis (Ed.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The American liberal arts tradition offers students the opportunity to take a broad range of course modules, learn about diverse cultures and take part in programmes and services that expand their ways of thinking and learning. (Carnegie, 2018) A liberal arts education claims its ultimate goal is to develop the individual to play an active role in his/her local and global community by teaching global citizenship and motivating graduates to continue a life of learning (AACU, 2019). This study considers a first-year cohort of international students entering university for the first time in London. It considers their motivations, expectations and ideas of what a liberal arts education will do for them and how these motivations and expectations develop and change in the first year. This study also focuses on engagement strategies that the institution has developed to promote skill-building and the development of global citizenship and analyses how effective these are in retaining students from year one to year two. Ultimately, the study seeks to discover if a liberal arts education at its early stages does indeed do what its students perceive it to do and whether or not the practicalities of training for good citizenship hold value and meaning to the students taking part on the course. Liberal arts education has weathered a number of trends in higher education over the years. From a focus on technical training and skills-based learning in the 1980s, to a shift back to personal development in the 1990s, the offer of general education courses has always occupied a place in universities around the world.(Menard, 2010) But as tuition fees increase and demands for student employment also rise, liberal arts programmes seem threatened. Supporters wonder if there is a place for them anymore in preparing young people for life beyond university. (Knight, 2008) The outcomes of this study are mixed. Based on the students’ expectations, feedback, engagement and final evaluations of their first-year programme at Richmond the American International University in London there appear to be two conflicting results. Students who engaged actively and persistently with the programme saw value and use in developing skills and personal qualities that they believed would be useful in helping them achieve their academic and personal goals. Those who did not engage with the programme or engaged only peripherally, saw little value in the first-year experience and struggled to relate to its intended outcomes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ed.D
Title: Practical preparation for a life of good citizenship or just a waste of time? A study of student engagement with the American liberal arts curriculum at an international university in London
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116395
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