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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

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The role of preceptors in first-year student engagement in introductory courses

Author(s): Black, K. A., & Voelker, J. C.

Citation: Black, K. A., & Voelker, J. C. (2008). The role of preceptors in first-year student engagement in introductory courses. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 20(2), 25-44.



The preceptor program at the University of Hartford was designed to increase engagement among first-year students and to provide role-modeling opportunities for upper-class students. Data from the first two years of the program were examined. In the first year, 611 undergraduate students in 40 introductory-level courses (26 with preceptors, 14 without) participated in the study; in the second year, 664 undergraduate students in 52 introductory-level courses (35 with preceptors, 17 without) participated. First-year students in preceptor courses reported significantly greater engagement than first-year students in non-preceptor courses, although there was some evidence that the preceptor effect was greater in professional courses than in liberal arts courses. Testimony from both preceptors and faculty suggested that the preceptors were effective role models for good student habits. Suggestions for future research and for program implementation are discussed.


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