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Using “off‐topic” presentations to engage students and create a sense of community in the classroom

Nicole F. Velasquez (Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)
Jerod W. Wilkerson (Pennsylvania State University, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA)
Marilyn B. Misch (Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 23 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a straightforward technique for engaging students and building a sense of community in the university classroom by allowing students to give brief extra‐credit presentations on topics of personal interest.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper includes an overview of the literature related to engagement and “sense of community,” a discussion of the motivation for incorporating “off‐topic” presentations in the university classroom, a description of the presentation requirements and grading practices, and comments on the results of employing the presentations. Because individual perceptions were the goal of this research, survey methodology was used. All items were measured on a five‐point Likert scale and administered to students at the end of the most recent term.

Findings

Using survey results, factor analysis, and regression, the paper finds that the presentations increased student attentiveness and fostered a sense of community in the classes in which the presentations were employed.

Originality/value

This research presents a unique method – the use of off‐topic presentations – to increase sense of community in the university classroom.

Keywords

Citation

Velasquez, N.F., Wilkerson, J.W. and Misch, M.B. (2011), "Using “off‐topic” presentations to engage students and create a sense of community in the classroom", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 97-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/17581181111198647

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited