This Week's Message
Congratulations! The hard work of the Augustana faculty over the last decade has been recognized. Augustana has been selected to participate in a Spencer Foundation study, Learning to Improve: A Study of Evidence-Based Improvement in Higher Education, being conducted by a research team from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The study is an in-depth investigation of select institutions that show a pattern of improved NSSE results over time on several measures of student engagement in educationally-effective practice. The research team will be on campus December 6 & 7 talking with faculty and staff to gain an understanding of the change efforts that led to these improvements.
Over 1,400 institutions have participated in NSSE since its inception ten years ago. More than 530 colleges and universities have administered NSSE several times, and about 140 of these schools have demonstrated improvement over time. Augustana was one of those schools. A year ago, we were invited by the researchers at NSSE to discuss changes that we had made that accounted for our performance. Based upon that information, Augustana was selected for further study.
So, what do our NSSE scores show? The first-year course sequence (LSFY) has had a significant impact upon the learning of our students. The academic challenge has increased. Compared to earlier findings, first-year students write and read more, and are expected to synthesize ideas and information--not just memorize. We have not shown similar rigor at the senior level, but seniors are more active and involved in their learning. Our seniors also are realizing the benefits of our increased emphasis on international study, service learning, and community engagement. The richness of the Augustana experience for our students has been significantly enhanced in the last decade.
None of these initiatives would have been possible without the hard work of the Augustana faculty. I hope if you have the opportunity to share your perspective with our campus visitors that you will do so. It is because of your efforts that they have chosen to be here.
For the Assessment for Improvement Committee