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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Donald Arwood


This study is an examination of factors associated with improved student engagement and higher-level thinking skills among first-year university students. Data was collected via responses of 547 South Dakota State University first-year students to the National Survey of Student Engagement. This research utilized a process and outcomes of instruction model which integrated the Common Read approach with Long and Hadden’s approach to formal socialization and other aspects of symbolic interaction. Results of statistical testing determined that institutional emphasis on producing academic and nonacademic impacts is strongly related to the impacts on higher-level thinking skills. Also, the higher the quality of relationships with other people at the university, the more likely students are to think critically. Good communication between faculty and students was also found to be significant for student development, as was faculty integrating active learning activities into the curriculum. The Common Read Program was determined to be influential in increasing student involvement with and understanding of diversity.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Critical thinking -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Active learning
College freshmen -- Books and reading
Communication in higher education


Includes bibliographical references (pages 100-105)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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