This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Examination of the Student Engagement and Deep Learning Experiences of High-Profile Student-Athletes, Low-Profile Student-Athletes, and the General Student Population




Lee, Adrienne

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Within the landscape of collegiate athletics, the personal development and engaging experiences of student-athletes, particularly those in high-profile sports, have often come into question. This study examined National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I first-year and senior high-profile student-athletes’ engagement in college and compared those findings with that of low-profile student-athletes and the general student population. The research design involved a secondary analysis of data collected from first-year and senior students at NCAA Division I institutions that participated in the 2010 administration of the NSSE College Student Report. Stratified random sampling technique was used to assemble a representative sample of the three groups (high-profile, low-profile, and general student population). First-year (n = 220) and senior (n = 173) students were analyzed separately. A one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted in order to determine the effect of the five Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice (Level of Academic Challenge (LAC), Active and Collaborative Learning (ACL), Student-Faculty Interaction (SFI), Enriching Educational Experiences (EEE), and Supportive Campus Environment (SCE)), and the three Deep Learning Scales (Higher-Order Learning (HL), Integrative Learning (IL), Reflective Learning (RL)), on the three student groups. For first-year students, the SFI benchmark was significantly different for the three student groups. For senior students, the benchmarks for EEE, SCE, and the deep learning approach HL, were significantly different for the three student groups. The findings suggested high-profile first-year student-athletes discussed matters related to grades and assignments with their instructors more often than their non-athlete peers. Moreover, low-profile senior student-athletes reported greater satisfaction with the diversity of their learning opportunities and experiences compared to the other student groups. Though high-profile senior student-athletes responded more satisfied than the general student population with the institutional support they received, they reported that their coursework did not improve their critical thinking skills. The results from this study provide empirical data to inform practice and aid higher education administrators in understanding more about the unique engaging experiences and learning approaches of student-athletes.