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Student Social Capital and Enriching Educational Experiences in Higher Education
AuthorGriswold, Mary T.
AdvisorVerstegen, Deborah A.
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The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the effect of the enriching educational experience on student social capital. A social capital index was created based on Putnam's research (2000); social capital categories were drawn on Spellerberg's research (2001). Data were collected at a single land-grant western U.S. university by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The population consisted of 714 seniors. The analysis used the ANOVA and ordinary least squares regression. Fourteen equations estimated the differences between student social capital of the student participants and non-participants in the enriching educational experience (EEE). Social capital and six sub-groups of social capital (civic, trust, volunteering, giving, participation, meeting obligations) were the dependent variables. Enriching educational experiences (internship, community service, learning community, research with faculty, foreign language, studies abroad, independent study, and senior culminating experience) were the independent variables. Control variables were selected student attributes, e.g., fraternity or sorority membership, student athlete, parental education (fathers), gender, race and ethnicity, self-reported grades, and program of study. The findings showed that 15% to 20% of the difference in student social capital came from student participation in the EEE regardless of the type of social capital. The control variables did not change the basic model. Generally, the most significant experience of the model was the learning community for seven of the eight types of EEEs. Second and third most important EEEs were usually community service and the internship. This research contributes to the literature by providing important results relevant to higher education, the student and the community.