A recent survey by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) suggests that students at colleges and universities are becoming more engaged in their school and their studies. This positive trend, the report posits, suggests that schools are doing an increasingly good job of meeting student needs in the classroom.
The study, which evaluated results from 360,000 students at 617 US colleges and universities, assessed students’ college engagement based on a number of factors, including collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and the supportiveness of the campus environment. Overall, the study found that students are gaining more academically and personally from their college experiences through the presumed correlation between student engagement and student learning.
To gather the data, NSSE surveyed college freshmen and seniors at 4-year colleges and universities about their involvement in various college programs, such as study-abroad programs, and about their interactions with faculty members through research or other activities.
In this year’s study, increased student engagement was reported at a broad spectrum of schools, both public and private colleges and schools of all sizes, and from students enrolled in a variety of degree programs: bachelors degrees, masters degrees and doctorate degrees.
Noteworthy findings from the 2009 study include:
- Of college seniors who completed a senior project, comprehensive exam or other college project, more than 75 percent said it substantially contributed to their intellectual curiosity, independent learning, critical thinking and decision-making skills.
- Students in classes that utilized technology in their courses for managing coursework and interacting with other students and/or faculty, through such means as discussion boards, posted assignments, blogs and collaborative editing software, reported that they had achieved higher academic and personal gains from their college experiences than those who did not have access to these technologies.
- One in three students considered their academic advising to be only fair or poor.
- Transfer students from community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities tended to interact less with faculty and had less positive views of their relationships with people on campus.
Through their findings, NSSE intends for participating colleges and universities to use this information to evaluate their college degree programs and discover areas of improvement. A deeper understanding of the types of learning behaviors student respond to and find value in can help schools to shape their curriculums to meet changing student needs.
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