SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - First-year and senior-year Slippery Rock University students participating in the bi-annual National Survey of Student Engagement indicated higher levels of engagement than students at other U.S. masters-level institutions in a number of categories according to the survey snapshot released earlier this month.
SRU's 2013 survey was conducted last spring. Approximately 500 fulltime, first-year students, participated in the survey, along with 550 seniors, 90 percent of them fulltime students.
The NSSE survey obtains information from approximately 600 colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.
Survey items represent and empirically confirm "good practices" in undergraduate education. NSSE's mission is to provide information as a way to help improve teaching - and student learning - all with the goal of increasing positive student outcomes.
"NSSE provides students with an opportunity to provide feedback about their undergraduate educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom," said Carrie Birckbichler, associate provost for institutional research and reporting. "Our students consistently report higher levels of participation and satisfaction with their SRU experience with 92 percent of first-year and seniors reporting a good to excellent educational experience."
The overall thrust of student engagement survey is to examine the extent to which student engage in and are exposed to effective educational practices - those activities and practices that several decades of research show to be positively correlated to a whole range of desired learning outcomes. In addition to the traditional items covered by the survey, the version administered to SRU students this year also asked about academic challenge, experiences with faculty, campus environment, collaborative learning and high-impact practices.
"SRU seniors reported higher participation rates in high impact practices such as internships and field experiences, service learning, research with faculty, and study abroad when compared to national and regional peers," said Birckbichler.
NSSE correlates these experiences with higher levels of student learning and success. Sixty-nine percent of SRU seniors participated in two or more high impact practices and an additional 20 percent in one high impact practice.
NSSE identifies 10 separate engagement indicators organized into four themes: academic challenge, learning with peers, experiences with faculty and campus environment.
Questions to first-year and seniors are designed to gauge student involvement in these different aspects of campus life. SRU students reported statistically higher results in several categories within these themes. For academic challenge these included higher order learning, learning strategies, and quantitative reasoning. NSSE results indicate a strong academic emphasis with nearly 90 percent of first-year students and 87 percent of seniors reported spending significant time on academic work and studying.
SRU students also identified collaborative learning, effective teaching, quality of interactions and supportive environment as characterizing their campus experiences.
"The survey is important to us and our planning. We use NSSE results as part of SRU's continuous improvement process to examine and improve in areas where we can better serve our students," Birckbichler said. "These positive survey results reflect that institutional commitment. Student engagement, including the time and energy students devote to their own education, are key factors in determining the student's overall success toward graduation."
Individual institution survey results are confidential, but are reported in aggregate form to allow participating institutions the ability to create comparisons both against the national level and against peer institutions.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.