Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Transfer student finds more fun and academic opportunity at Randolph

A year ago, Elizabeth van Noppen ’14 had to make a difficult choice. She knew she should leave the campus that she had called home for her first two years of college.

At her first college, she did not experience the academic challenge that would help her grow. She also wanted greater diversity among her classmates and more social activities. “I wanted a place where everyone wanted to stay and have fun on the weekends,” van Noppen said. “I wanted a place that had a dynamic atmosphere and character.”

Transfer Week

Randolph College is celebrating Transfer Week June 24 – 28. Learn more and schedule a tour of campus at
That spring, she watched her older sister Marian van Noppen ’12 graduate from Randolph College. Inspired by her sister’s pride and positive experiences here, she decided to tour Randolph for herself. “During the tours and the interviews I had, there was a clear difference,” she said. “I felt like I was connecting with this school. There was diversity, there was challenge, and there was more opportunity in my field.”

A psychology major, van Noppen spent part of that first campus tour talking to Beth Schwartz, the Catherine E. & William E. Thoresen Chair in Social Sciences and assistant dean of the College. Schwartz told her about a Summer Research Program project she was working on to study how honor codes affect academic honesty and cheating. Hearing that Randolph students have opportunities to work on summer projects alongside experienced professors helped van Noppen decide to transfer to Randolph.

Transfer student Elizabeth van Noppen ’14, left, has enjoyed singing in Randolph’s female a cappella
group Songshine, fun traditions, and academic opportunities like the Summer Research Program.
Today, van Noppen is continuing that same research project on academic honesty in the 2013 Summer Research Program. Over the past few years, Schwartz and Megan Hageman ’13 conducted surveys to test how people viewed various dishonest academic behaviors. They found that students at colleges with traditional honor codes—featuring self-scheduled exams, a student-run judicial system for honor violations, and the expectation that students report violations—are more aware of standards of academic integrity than students at schools without honor codes or with a non-traditional honor code.

Van Noppen became interested as she saw the way Randolph’s honor system, including self-scheduled exams and many take-home tests, fostered integrity. “I noticed that the culture is really different. With less supervision, with more trust in your students, it makes students act more honestly, because there is that responsibility on them,” she said. “It’s helpful to see what mechanisms help reduce dishonesty in the classroom. I had always thought, to reduce cheating, you should add more consequences or try to manipulate the environment. Coming here and looking at the research, I've realized that's not the case.”

Van Noppen has continued analyzing data, focusing on the way gender affects academic honesty. She also helped finish a paper on the research which they submitted to the Journal of Ethics and Behavior.

In addition to Summer Research, van Noppen has enjoyed singing with Songshine, Randolph’s female a cappella group, and participating in events like Ring Week, when juniors and first-year students exchange gifts and juniors receive their class rings.

She encourages other college students who are looking for a change to tour Randolph and see whether it offers what they are looking for. “If you come here, you will have really special relationships with faculty and your peers,” she said. “You’ll be challenged academically, and you will have fun sporting events to attend. You’ll do quirky traditions. You’ll graduate knowing people you never thought you'd meet, and having friends you never thought you'd be friends with.”