Research in Higher Education

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 589-615

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Are the Effects of Student–Faculty Interaction Dependent on Academic Major? An Examination Using Multilevel Modeling

  • Young K. KimAffiliated withDepartment of Doctoral Higher Education, Azusa Pacific University Email author 
  • , Linda J. SaxAffiliated withHigher Education and Organizational Change, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles


Using multilevel models, this study examined whether and why the strength of association between student–faculty interaction and student cognitive skills development varies across academic majors. The study utilized data from the 2008 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) and a sample of 43,014 students from 119 academic majors across nine campuses. The results indicate that the impact of interaction with faculty on students’ cognitive skills development significantly varies by academic major. Findings also suggest that some aspects of departmental climate can potentially magnify the effects produced by student–faculty interaction.


Student–faculty interaction Cognitive skills development Academic majors Departmental climate Multilevel models