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Research project to examine relationship between student learning and engagement

For Immediate Release Sep 20, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University researchers have partnered with a nonprofit educational organization to expand research in the college union and student activities field. The first project between IU and the Association of College Unions International is a qualitative, multi-campus study that will examine student engagement in the college union and how college unions contribute to student learning and success.

Danielle DeSawal
Danielle DeSawal

“By collecting data at several institutions, we’ll be able to see similarities and differences of how student center facilities and programs influence student success at each campus,” said Danielle DeSawal, the study’s principal investigator and a clinical associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the IU School of Education. “We look forward to using that information to broadly improve students’ experience in the years to come.”

Data collection and analysis will be done using a qualitative case study to discover the conditions within a physical space that influence student learning and student success. The use of physical space, student employment, programming, campus partnerships, policies and practices will be documented to better understand the student outcomes associated with the college union.

“I’m excited about the potential of this project,” said Association of College Unions International CEO John Taylor. “We know that college students don’t just learn in a classroom setting, and this is a way to further explore and understand how many of their co-curricular experiences in the union contribute to their education and engagement.”

Six site visits to U.S. campuses will be conducted in the next six months, and initial findings are expected to be published in early 2019.

The Center for Postsecondary Research at the School of Education will provide academic resources to the Association of College Unions International in conducting research, analyzing data and connecting outcomes with other projects the center oversees. The center conducts and disseminates research on student access, assessment, engagement and persistence, including through the National Survey of Student Engagement.

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