April 13, 2010

From the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning

Just what makes for a really good undergraduate experience? Rankings in magazines are based mostly on what students were like when they started college -- their entrance exam scores or high school class rank. The rankings also emphasize what institutions have -- numbers of faculty members, library books, computer terminals, and so forth. Oddly enough, what gets little attention is what matters most to student learning -- what students do with the resources their school provides. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) focuses on the things that are really important to a high quality undergraduate education: what students do and what they say about their experience.

Over the next few weeks randomly selected first-year and senior students at Mount Union and more than 300 other colleges and universities across the nation will share their views by completing a short survey called The College Student Report. The Report takes less than 15 minutes to complete and is available in paper or web versions. The questions are about how and where students spend their time, the nature and quality of their interactions with faculty members and peers, and what they have gained from their classes and other aspects of their college experience.

All these activities are directly related to desired outcomes of college. For this reason, the survey is sort of an anonymous suggestion box. The results get the attention of people who can make changes for the better. Among the other groups that are interested in what students say about their experience are accrediting bodies, governmental agencies, and prospective students.

The National Survey of Student Engagement is supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and is cosponsored by the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The results from the NSSE survey are being used to help colleges and universities improve undergraduate education by providing valuable information about student engagement in learning and learning outcomes. The Pew Charitable Trusts is a philanthropic organization that is interested in college students and collegiate quality and is underwriting the project as a public service to your school and others colleges and universities.

Additional information about The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is available on the web.

Additional information about The Pew Charitable Trusts:

The Pew Charitable Trusts ( support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. In 2000, with approximately $4.6 billion in assets, the Trusts committed more than $235 million to 302 nonprofit organizations.

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