Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Students Share Maynooth Experiences, Research on the Purpose of Higher Ed

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Twelve students enrolled in higher education programs at the Watson College completed international internships in Maynooth, Ireland last fall. The two-week program, coordinated by assistant professors James DeVita and Andrew Ryder in partnership with Maynooth University, was designed to give students a global perspective of higher education and hands-on experience in a variety of campus offices including the career center, chaplaincy, graduate studies and student services.

WCE’s higher education faculty and student participants in the inaugural internship have shared their experiences and information about the program in a promotional video. Susan Finley and Krystine Wetherill helped DeVita plan the video, which was produced by UNCW’s Office of University Relations.

Higher Ed Research Symposium

During the fall semester, 16 graduate students enrolled in Andrew Ryder’s Foundations of Higher Education course (EDL 550/650) sought to expand their thinking on the purpose of higher education and the role of UNCW through an interview-based study of community perspectives.

“Most students in the Foundations course are new to higher education as a field of study and practice,” Ryder said. “The purpose of higher education has evolved over time and what people think about college usually varies depending on whether or how they’ve experienced it. This project helps students expand their thinking about the purpose of college and begin to develop an understanding of the perceptions and expectations people in our region and elsewhere have of higher education."

Working in groups, students studied the mission and history of North Carolina’s community college and university system. They also conducted in-depth interviews with educators, community leaders, members of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, and staff and clients of the Cape Fear Literacy Council to gauge perceptions about higher education and UNCW’s role in the Cape Fear region.

The groups presented their research at a symposium at the college on Nov. 30.

Students reported a wide range of views on the key role for UNCW and other universities. Responses included helping individuals achieve goals of job preparedness, intellectual growth and engaged citizenship; community outreach and engagement; and “being think tanks for the future.”

Interim Provost Marilyn Sheerer, QENO director Natasha Davis and UNCW associate vice chancellor for external programs Lori Messenger joined Watson College Dean Van Dempsey, Educational Leadership Department chair Susan Faircloth, Associate Dean Ann Potts, Ryder and other faculty and guests at the event.

Ryder plans to build on the work by continuing to include the project in future EDL 550/650 courses.

The project was supported by an Experiencing Transformative Education through Applied Learning (ETEAL) grant.