SRU students highly rate their college experience, according to national survey


students working with a professor

Nearly 1,100 Slippery Rock University students participated in the 2019 National Survey of Student Engagement, which assesses student participation in activities and programs that promote their learning and personal development.

May 4, 2020

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Slippery Rock University students are rating their college experience higher than students at SRU's peer institutions, according to 2019 National Survey of Student Engagement data.

Last year, nearly 1,100 SRU first-year and senior students took the NSSE survey, which is periodical taken by students at more than 1,600 college and universities to help institutions assess student participation in activities and programs that promote their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.

Ninety percent of the 567 first-year SRU students who took the survey rated their overall experience as either "excellent" or "good," and said they would "definitely" or "probably" choose to attend SRU if they had to choose an institution again. Among the 526 SRU seniors who responded to those questions, 86% were satisfied with their overall experience and 84% would choose SRU again. All of the results for institutional satisfaction by SRU students rated higher than the average response by students at all schools in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

"We continually use feedback from our students to help inform decision making at SRU, and the NSSE survey has been a valuable resource," said Carrie Birckbichler, chief data officer. "We're encouraged by our students' levels of engagement and satisfaction, and we're thankful that they take the survey and recognize the importance of providing feedback."

SRU's survey response rate of 42% for first-year students and 36% for seniors was well above the 25% rate for all PASSHE students.

The NSSE uses 10 Engagement Indicators to measure how well students are challenged academically, learn with peers and interact with faculty. Among the 10 EIs, SRU rated "significantly higher" than PASSHE first-year and senior students for Collaborative Learning and Quality of Interactions. For example, SRU seniors were 12 percentage points better than the PASSHE average in how often or very often they "worked with other students on course projects or assignments." SRU first-year students were 10 percentage points better than the PASSHE average.

Based on the scoring system that NSSE uses to measure the EIs, on a scale of 0-60 with a perfect 60 being "very often" for every response, SRU's scores of 43.8 and 44.5 for the Quality of Interactions by first-year and senior students, respectively, are the school's highest since the NSSE was created in 2013.

SRU also scored higher than PASSHE peers in High-Impact Practices, designed by NSSE as opportunities for students that "demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others, and provide frequent and substantive feedback." HIPs include service-learning, learning communities and research with faculty, while seniors also consider their internships, study abroad and culminating senior experiences when assessing their HIPs.

Sixty-nine percent of first-year students at SRU reported participation in at least one HIP, while 91% of seniors participated in at least one and 67% reported two or more. The PASSHE averages for at least one HIP are 58% for first-year students and 86% for seniors (60% with two or more).

"Student participation in HIPs is very beneficial in terms of student engagement and long-term success," said Brad Wilson, associate provost for academic affairs and integrated learning. "Over the last several years, many faculty members have chosen to receive special training in how best to integrate HIPs into their courses. We have been particularly successful in increasing students' opportunities to engage in service learning and research. Promoting high-impact practices is one way that we provide students with a holistic, integrated learning experience at SRU."

Other key indicators of assessment used by the NSSE are the perceived gains by seniors reporting how much their experience at SRU contributed to their knowledge, skills and personal development. Among the areas that SRU seniors responded as "very much" or "quite a bit" included "Thinking critically and analytically" (86%), "Working effectively with others" (81%), "Speaking clearly and effectively (76%) and "Writing clearly and effectively" (75%).

The NSSE is independently administered from the Center for Postsecondary Research in the Indiana University School of Education. To learn more about the survey, visit

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