Evidently, the stuff we did worked!

So what’s this about the National Survey of Student Engagement coming to Augustana to study us?  Essentially – as Ellen described in her cover article, although many institutions have been using NSSE for over a decade to assess student experiences, far fewer have 1) used the findings from their data to construct broad changes in educational programming, and 2) documented improvement in educational quality on subsequent NSSE surveys as a result of those changes.  I thought it might be helpful to explore the areas where we have seen substantive change in NSSE scores and note the program and policy changes that we think contributed to this change.

First, some background.  NSSE is a four page survey that asks a series of demographic and college experience questions.  The experience questions are organized under five broad concepts that NSSE calls “benchmarks,” each representing something that we know makes a difference in the quality of a students’ education.  They are:

Level of Academic Challenge

Active and Collaborative Learning

Student-Faculty Interaction

Enriching Educational Experiences

Supportive Campus Environment

Augustana began using NSSE in 2002 and continued to utilize it in 2003, 2006, and 2009.  In addition, NSSE is included in the Wabash National Study, so our freshmen class of 2008 also completed NSSE.  We will administer NSSE again in the spring of 2012.

Since NSSE revised the way they calculated the benchmark scores in 2005, we can’t compare the benchmark scores since 2003, but we can see some impressive changes between 2006 and 2009.  Comparing freshman scores, we made statistically significant increases in Student-Faculty Interaction and Supportive Campus Environment benchmarks.  Comparing senior scores, we made a statistically significant increase in Enriching Educational Experiences.

There are also changes on individual items that suggest some improvement in educational quality.  Changes in NSSE scores between 2003 and 2009 suggest that on average, we have increased the extent to which our freshmen make class presentations, prepare two or more drafts of a paper before turning it in, and work with classmates outside of class to prepare assignments.  In addition, our 2009 freshmen believe that Augustana is making are larger contribution to their growth in speaking clearly and effectively, working effectively with others, understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds, and contributing to the welfare of the community.

A close examination of our NSSE data indicates that, although we still can do more to improve the educational quality of an Augustana experience, 1) we do a lot of things well, and 2) we have made numerous substantive improvements during the past decade.

If you’d like to know more about any aspect of our NSSE data, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Make it a good day.

Mark

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