College of the Ozarks
Learning to Work – The Integration Between Academics and Work
The WCC grant provided resources to study the influence that critical reflection on the theological/ philosophical foundation of work had on work college students’ work grades at a work education program. I sought to better understand how critical academic reflection on the value and role of work in the lives of work college students at College of the Ozarks contributes to their well-being, buy-in, and productivity while in their on-campus workstations. Altogether students who participated fully in the critical reflection, readings, and communal interaction saw 3.66% increase from their midterm to final work grade compared to students who did not participate, who only averaged a 1.55% increase. The lowest midterm grade from any student in the study was an 83%. Thus, 3.66% within a range from 83% to 100% is notable.
One of the most significant dimensions of evidence that demonstrates the integration of work and learning in this study is that those students who participated in the seminar, who learned, were much more likely to be more productive workers than their peers. With as few as two extracurricular meetings, we found a noticeable change. As students gained a fuller understanding of the Biblical Meaning of Work (Hypothesis 1a) they performed at higher levels within their workstation. Also, as students critically reflected on the role of work in their lives (to form character, provide for others, and participate in who they were made to be) they were much more likely to work harder and more productively. As far as indirect evidence, I believe there are a variety of examples. First of all that there has been interest to provide similar reflection and training for work supervisors is a major step. Along with this there has been broad discussion of possibly integrating a critical reflection component on work in some of the freshman and sophomore classes. I take these to be indicators that CofO is ready for more intentional reflection on work and learning with students, staff, and faculty.
Bio: Andrew T. Bolger
Campus Minister and the Director of the Institutional Quality Initiative
Andrew T. Bolger Ph.D. serves as the Campus Minister at College of the Ozarks. His responsibilities support the Christian mission of the College by facilitating leadership development, ethical maturation, character formation, coordinating and designing our service and international mission trip program, organizing and teaching within our chapel program, and instructing within the Biblical and Theological Studies, Sociology and Family Studies, and Philosophy and Religion departments on our campus. Most recently, he also assumed the role of Director of the Institutional Quality Initiative. In this role, he leads a longitudinal study that surveys the character development of 1500 college students. This assessment includes programming development, student character learning outcomes development, strategic planning, assessment module development, educational technology implementation, and inter-departmental coordination. The goal of this initiative is provide a holistic picture of the student maturation through five character qualities: Wisdom, Hope, Humility, Courage, and Citizenship. Andrew graduated from John Brown University (B.A.), Samford University (Beeson Divinity School – M.Div.), and, most recently, from Azusa Pacific University with a Ph.D. in Higher Education with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership where he focused his research on Work Colleges. The title of his dissertation was Higher Education and Employability: A Case Study of Debt and Justice in the Process to Becoming a Work College.