*WINNER* The Impact of a University Connections Course on Freshman Students in the School of Agriculture and Human Ecology
During their freshman year of college, students are required to take a connections course linking them to the university as a way to strengthen student involvement, develop an advancement in study skills, and learn more about themselves as well as their goals throughout their college career. Upon completion of the course, College of Agriculture and Human Ecology students were asked to evaluate their perceived level of importance as well as competence for three constructs: communication, leadership, and critical thinking using an instrument that had been pilot tested to determine reliability. The purpose of this study was to identify how students feel their imperative level of importance correlates to their attained level of competence. Students were asked to rank their perception based on a 1-5 scale: 1 (not important/not competent), 2 (of little importance/of little competence), 3 (somewhat important/somewhat competent), 4 (important/competent), and 5 (very important/very competent). In the communication construct, students felt that the top item of most importance was “I actively listen” (96.8%); eighty-four percent felt most competent for the same item. In the leadership construct, students felt that the top item of most importance was “I feel responsible for my actions” (96.8%); however, students felt most competent for “I feel responsible for my decisions” (92.3%). In the critical thinking construct, students felt that the item of most importance was “I strive to be well informed” (96.8%); eighty-nine percent felt most competent for the same item.