Perceptions of new college students at The University of Alabama regarding the role and value of interdisciplinary studies

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University of Alabama Libraries

Higher education offers students several approaches to learning. An interdisciplinary studies education is just one such option. Providing a unique educational model for students, this type of program allows students to expand beyond the traditional one major approach to focusing on several areas of interest, by creating a multidisciplinary plan of study. This research examines the perceptions of currently enrolled New College students at The University of Alabama regarding the role and value of participation in an interdisciplinary studies baccalaureate program. In addition, a review of literature based on the history of interdisciplinary studies provided information on the vast contribution of experimental learning and its impact on higher education. However, the literature also highlighted numerous opposing views on perspectives of the role and values of the interdisciplinary approach in education. This document will further review the role interdisciplinary education plays in higher education. Furthermore, the type of interdisciplinary education environments will be explored. Additionally, the process of learning how students come to be involved in interdisciplinary programs will be reviewed and analyzed. Finally, the process of interdisciplinary education as it relates to student development will also be outlined in detail. The literature created a foundation for the basis of understanding The University of Alabama's New College Interdisciplinary Studies Program, particularly the role of students. This research was conducted using a survey instrument with a six-point Likert scale to collect information from New College students on educational background, demographics, and length of time enrolled in program. Further, questions regarding lifelong learning and student development were designed to measure students' responses regarding the value of interdisciplinary studies. Lastly, the remaining open-ended questions provided feedback on recommendations for improvements of the interdisciplinary program, as well as challenges faced within New College. Findings, conclusions, and recommendations for policy, practice,

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Educational leadership, Educational administration