Ohio Christian University’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness recently participated in a national assessment called “The Thriving Survey.” Respondents to this online survey included 126 Traditional Undergraduate students and 275 students in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies. One of the most interesting findings was the high level of community in OCU’s adult and online classes.
83% of adult and online students agree there is a “strong sense of community among students in this program.”
What is it about OCU’s adult and online programs that create this sense of community? Dr. Cynthia Tweedell, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, has asked this question of students, faculty and advisors. She concludes the faith integration component of OCU’s programs is the key. The Thriving Survey reports 99% of students in OCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies agree “my spiritual or religious beliefs are the foundation of my approach to life.” They have chosen OCU over other options in non-traditional education because of the emphasis the classes put on faith. Students in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies are in groups which begin each week in prayer together which helps to build community even when they are not meeting in person. An additional unique component of the courses is an online “Prayer Forum” where students openly share prayer requests.
Critics of online education frequently talk about the lack of community in online programs, producing lower outcomes than face-to-face classes. However, such conversation often ignores the data. OCU has found a way to facilitate community online because it is paramount to the success of the student.
Students in OCU’s College of Adult and Graduate Studies are very satisfied with their choice: 95% agree, “I really enjoy being a student here.” They know they have found a college which delivers excellent academic quality that does not require them to put aside their Christian faith.
The adult and online programs for undergraduate and graduate level degrees, is an avenue for the working student. These are often parents or individuals with full-time jobs. The online and evening course offerings give every type of student a chance to build their future and better their lives without losing sight of the dedication and community that it takes to accomplish these goals.
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