Charles Taylor, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
Dean of the College
National Survey of Students Engagement
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 14, 2007 — Students at Drury University remain more involved and challenged by their education than most of their counterparts at other colleges and universities, according to the results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
In every category of the survey, Drury placed at or above the national average and the benchmarks for master’s universities. In most cases, Drury was ranked above the national average. Particularly, Drury’s first-year students give the university high marks in Level of Academic Challenge (Drury: 56.8 percent/other institutions: 51.3 percent); Active and Collaborative Learning (Drury: 47.5 percent/others: 42.5 percent); Student-Faculty Interaction (Drury: 40.4 percent/Others 34.1 percent); Enriching Educational Experiences (Drury: 29.3 percent/Others 26 percent); and Supportive Campus Environment (Drury: 66.8 percent/Others 61.6 percent).
Overall, Drury was in the plus category or statistically tied in 28 of the 30 comparison group benchmarks among first-year and senior students. Those benchmark comparison groups included the consortium of 22 colleges and universities in the Associated New American Colleges; Carnegie peers and those schools’ students who participated in the survey.
Interviews with randomly selected first-year and senior students are at the heart of the assessment. More than 313,000 students at 610 colleges and universities completed the 2007 survey.
The survey is sent to randomly selected first-year and senior students at participating colleges. The questions are related to desired outcomes of college and address the above five types of experiences, having to do with areas such as academic challenge or exposure to cultural activities, that research suggests any college-bound student ought to be looking for.
According to a recent article in USA Today that quotes George Kuh, the NSSE director and Indiana University of Bloomington professor of higher education: “If a score is more than 5 points higher than the national average for a school’s institutional type, the difference is likely to be meaningful. But differences of, say, 1 or 2 points are not.” Drury scored 5 points and above, according to its first-year students, in most benchmark categories, including Level of Academic Challenge, Active and Collaborative Learning, Student-Faculty Interaction, and Supportive Campus Environment.
“Drury is a place where its faculty set high expectations, but it’s also the kind of environment that provides support to meet those expectations,” said Dr. Charles Taylor, vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the College. “Drury has always believed that students must be engaged in active learning if they want to succeed, and we have intentionally moved away from traditional seated classes whenever possible. We want our students to connect with faculty, with each other and with the outside world. The NSSE results tell us we're doing a good job at that.”
NSSE is seen as a counterpart to the more traditional college rankings such as those from U.S. News & World Report. Where those surveys typically focus on a college’s selectivity, the test scores and grades of incoming students and the financial resources of the institution, NSSE explores students' actual experiences.
“The results clearly show that colleges and universities should do everything possible to encourage undergraduates to participate in at least two high-impact activities, one in the first year and one later in their studies. Such experiences will better prepare students for a productive, satisfying lifetime of continuous learning,” says George Kuh, the NSSE director and Indiana University of Bloomington professor of higher education.
By focusing on the elements needed for effective learning, NSSE hopes to guide colleges and universities as they assess and modify courses and curricula. The project, funded initially by a $3.3 million grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, is in its eighth year. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsored the NSSE 2007 Report.
“It gives us a way to measure ourselves in very specific ways,” says Taylor, "and data like that is always welcome at Drury, where we want to build on the tradition of academic flexibility and excellence."
The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is easier to understand once one sees some of the questions used to survey college students. The questions are grouped into the survey’s five learning categories. Questions include:
Level of academic challenge:
Active and collaborative learning:
Enriching educational experience:
Supportive campus environment:
Drury University has taken the lead among private universities in the Midwest in truly integrating a liberal arts education with comprehensive professional programs. At Drury, the power of intensive faculty and staff mentoring in small-class settings creates an atmosphere of high academic expectation grounded in a supportive learning community, an ideal combination which produces leaders ready to serve in a global community. For more information, visit www.drury.edu.
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