Involvement in a first-year-experience course: What impact does it have on the collaboration between academic and student affairs professionals?




Sanchez, Cheryl Lea

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The development of healthy relationships among the students, faculty, and staff at higher education institutions leads to the creation of a seamless, connected learning environment for the students (Blimling & Whitt, 1999; Kezar, Hirsch, & Burack, 2001; Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, Whitt, & Associates, 2005; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Nonetheless, the problem is that often the lack of collaboration between academic and student affairs professionals creates a barrier against the development of a campus climate that is conducive to meeting the learning needs of the students. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of academic and student affairs professionals at a rural, 2-year public Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) who were directly involved with the First-Year-Experience (FYE) course as to the impact that involvement had on the collaboration between the two departments, and consequently, the campus climate.

A conceptual framework of Kezar's Model for Student and Academic Affairs Collaboration (2003) was utilized as a guide to this qualitative single case study, and data was collected via in-depth, semistructured interviews with six participants: three academic and three student affairs professionals. The interviews were transcribed and uploaded into NVivo 10 for data analysis.

The analysis unveiled five themes: 1.) cross-institutional dialogue, 2.) leadership, 3.) cooperation, 4.) setting expectations, and 5.) creating a common vision. The participants' experiences indicated that the FYE was a supportive venue for enhancing cross institutional collaboration, which led to a more satisfying work environment, as well as a more supportive learning environment for the students.


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Academic Affairs, Collaboration, Community College Administration, Dual Roles, First-Year Experience Course, Student Affairs



Educational Leadership and Policy Studies