Nov. 17, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Students boost SRU's rating in national engagement survey
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - First-year Slippery Rock University students have given higher approval ratings on their college experience than the previous year's class in all five of the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement benchmark categories.
New students rated their experience higher than their peers did at comparative sister institutions in the areas of academic challenge, collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and campus experiences. SRU seniors gave solid evaluations on the national survey, exceeding last year's rating in four of the five categories surveyed.
"With first-year students, our students scored significantly higher than our Carnegie Classification peers, our state system peers and all institutions in NSSE on three of those benchmarks: academic learning, student and faculty and interaction and enriching educational experience," said Amanda Yale, associate provost for enrollment services. "This shows that students, overall, are engaged with the campus and are involved with activities in and out of the classroom."
Seniors gave SRU higher approval ratings than their peers did at other state system schools, Carnegie peer and NSSE institutions in collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supporting campus experiences.
The NSSE project, launched in 1999 with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, involves surveying randomly chosen first-year students and seniors. Students respond to questions about academics, campus activities, meaningful discussion with faculty, library services and a host of other indicators. The NSSE project surveyed 1,200 colleges and universities and more than 1.5 million students, making it one of the largest annual studies of student engagement. The Carnegie Classification, a framework for grouping colleges in universities, includes all accredited, degree-granting institutions in the U.S.
Yale said student engagement is important because studies show a connection between student involvement and academic success. More engaged and involved students tend to excel in their pursuits in college.
"The amount of time and effort students involve themselves in social activities - clubs, organizations, honoraries, athletics, recreation and fraternities/sororities - correlates with student learning and retention," she said.
One of the most important NSSE results is academic challenge, a yardstick for evaluating how much time students spent writing reports, studying and preparing for class. SRU comparison mean scores on each of the five benchmarks - level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experience and supportive campus experience - show increased engagement and involvement improvements in 2008 compared to previous years, Yale said.
"The faculty especially lead the way at SRU for our improved scores on student engagement in the academic arena," she said. "Additionally, we offer lots of supportive experiences for first-year students to transition them successfully to the campus, whether in the academic climate such as FYRST Seminar, the living-learning clusters in the new residence halls, as well as our programming in student leadership, Compass Leadership Program and intercultural services, to name but a few."
NSSE reports that freshman and seniors also spend more time collaborating with other students and faculty members on class projects than a year ago. They also increased their participation in service-learning projects.
"We have refocused conversations about undergraduate quality and channeled student energy toward activities that matter the most," Yale said.
The NSSE project results are available for review by students, parents, prospective students, alumni and extended constituents. SRU created a new Web site to post the 2008 results. For more information, visit: http://administration.sru.edu/WebComm/Admissions/NSSE/.
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.