Archived Voice Articles
Three employees at Dordt College were awarded their doctorates this summer.
Dr. William Elgersma completed a thesis titled Examining the Skills, Attitudes, and Perceptions of Basic Writers at a Private Midwest College at the University of South Dakota. Elgersma, who teaches the basic writing course at Dordt along with English and education courses, wanted to know whether the class he was teaching was effectively meeting the needs of students who enter college without the writing skills demanded for college work.
While he found that forty-two percent of students in the basic writing course at Dordt graduate compared to a national average of thirty percent, Elgersma says that statistic is the result of many campus efforts. In general, he found that while student writing skills were still below what they should be, students had grown both in their ability to write and in their sense that they could improve.
Elgersma is interested in finding ways to assess college students’ writing. He would like to help develop a software assessment tool to help faculty evaluate basic writing skills more consistently and quickly.
Dr Curtis Taylor, assistant to the president, earned his degree in higher education from Iowa State University. Taylor looked at the job satisfaction level of faculty at ten Christian colleges and found that one of the best measures of people’s satisfaction in their work was their commitment to the institution for which they worked.
“To a person, the faculty interviewed saw their job as a calling or mission, something they were gifted to do,” says Taylor. It was their way of serving. While responses varied in degree and varied between institutions, the numbers show that faculty at Christian colleges were more satisfied with their jobs than those at non-Christian institutions.
In general there was a bipolar distribution of responses, says Taylor. Younger, new faculty and older, long tenured faculty were the most happy in their jobs, with the middle group expressing the most concerns.
Taylor says his study helped give him the tools to do research that could be helpful for Dordt College.
Dr. David Wilcox of the psychology department studied the effects of depression and spiritual maturity on how first time freshmen adapt to college. Using standardized survey instruments administered anonymously, Wilcox surveyed first-time students at Dordt College and found that fifty-three percent of those surveyed who didn't adapt well exhibited depressive symptoms and seven percent showed signs of spiritual immaturity. Overall, irrespective of the students’ adaptation and spirituality scores, twenty-two percent of the students surveyed showed signs of depression, figures comparable to national statistical norms for first-time college students.
Wilcox shared his results with student services staff and Gen 100 instructors so they could be sensitive to the number of students who were experiencing challenges adapting.