SRU students give University high marks


professor with student

Jan. 6, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University students consistently rate their experience at the University higher than do students attending peer institutions, according to the latest report from the National Survey of Student Engagement.

The NSSE survey obtains information from hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The 2015 report details results from more than 315,000 first-year and senior students attending 541 U.S. institutions in spring 2015.

"The senior survey response rate of 35 percent for SRU is well above the overall NSSE response rate by 10 percent," said Carrie Birckbichler, associate provost for academic planning, resource management and assessment, "and that's a great indicator for how seriously our students take their educational experience."

SRU uses data from the NSSE to identify aspects of the student experience inside and outside the classroom that are working well and to discover other areas that can be improved.

"Administering NSSE is only the first step," Birckbichler continued, "Putting the data to work in ways that positively impact student learning - and ultimately student success - is the next and most important step in the process."

To focus discussions about the importance of student engagement and guide institutional improvement efforts, NSSE created 10 "engagement indicators," organized under four broad themes, that provide valuable information about distinct aspects of student engagement by summarizing students' responses to sets of related survey questions, including:

• Academic challenge (Higher-order learning; reflective and integrative learning; learning strategies; quantitative reasoning)

• Learning with peers (Collaborative learning; discussions with diverse others)

• Experiences with faculty (Student-faculty interaction; effective teaching practices)

• Campus environment (Quality of interactions; supportive environment)

NSSE's 2015 Snapshot Report for SRU compares the University's performance against its peers from within Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

First-year SRU students ranked collaborative learning, quality of interactions and supportive environment "significantly higher" than their counterparts at other State System institutions, while SRU seniors ranked six indicators - reflective and integrative learning, quantitative reasoning, collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, quality of interactions and supportive environment - "significantly higher" than their State System peers.

Other highlights from the report show that 64 percent of SRU seniors felt that course work "highly challenged" them to do their best work, compared to 59 percent of their State System peers, while 51 percent of SRU first-year students concurred, compared to 48 percent of their State System counterparts.

Eighty-nine percent of first-year and senior SRU students ranked their overall experience at the University as "excellent" or "good," compared to 84 percent and 86 percent of their respective State System equals.

SRU students also outpaced their State System colleagues among those who would "definitely" or "probably" attend the University again with first-year students boasting a seven-percent advantage (89 to 82), while seniors posted a six-point edge (84 to 79).

Results from the NSSE survey are used as part of SRU's continuous improvement program as well as being used for benchmarking purposes and to demonstrate an institutional commitment to improvement and effectiveness.

"Research indicates the levels of student performance measured by NSSE are not likely to change without intentional interventions," Birckbichler said. "It is important for our campus to take time to understand what the results mean."

Data is available online at:

Additional benchmark comparison reports and longitudinal reports are also available, as well as links to resources which highlight how institutions use the NSSE results for improving undergraduate education across departments and colleges.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 |