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Perspective On...

Posted Feb, 16, 2010

This first appeared in the Feb. 15, 2010 issue of e-Inside.

Kent State faculty members took steps this past fall to make education for their students something truly remarkable, and those path-breaking steps paid off.

Jennifer Noble, academic advising coordinator in the College and Graduate School of Business Administration; Barbara Hugenberg, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies; and Rosalind Thompson, Goodyear Executive Professor in the College and Graduate School of Business Administration, took part in a linked courses pilot program, where students were able to achieve true interdisciplinary learning by forming connections across course curricula and departmental boundaries.

Kent State’s learning communities have offered linked courses in the past, allowing students to enroll in each of their classes with the same group of students. Last fall’s pilot program took the concept a step further, using faculty collaboration to achieve cross-disciplinary course integration. Over the course of the semester, students studied the same topics in their introductory business course, their introductory communication course and their First-Year Experience course.

The linkages were chosen specifically to help students understand how courses related to each other through interconnected curricula, as well as to help them build connections with other students also enrolled in the program.

Student survey responses at the end of the semester showed overwhelming support for the linked courses. Students said they were able to see the connections between related ideas in the different courses, and that these connections made for an even better learning experience than in their other, nonlinked classes. They also said they felt more comfortable in the linked courses because they were able to get to know most of the other students over the span of the semester.

More than 80 percent of students who participated in the pilot said that all freshmen should be enrolled in a linked course as part of their First-Year Experience.

I would like to thank all of those involved in the pilot for making this exciting adventure such a success. It is clear from our students’ responses that it was extremely helpful and enjoyable to them as a learning experience and something we should continue to pursue as a university. As we move toward fully integrated courses, students will continue to benefit in more and new ways.

After receiving such promising responses from students, we are looking forward to expanding the program in fall 2010. We hope the program will grow to include 10 additional linkages in English, Destination Kent State: First-Year Experience, and students’ major programs, while continuing with the established College of Business Administration and Department of Communication Studies linkages.

For more information on the linked courses and how to get involved, please contact N.J. Akbar, assistant director of Student Success Programs, at 330-672-4138 or


Timothy Chandler
Senior Associate Provost

Student Response Survey Selected Responses:

  • 87 percent said that linked courses helped them feel more confident in interacting with faculty
  • 84 percent said they favored their linked courses over other, non-linked courses
  • 82 percent felt that linked courses should be a part of all freshmen first year experience