For the past 15 years, DePaul has participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an annual inquiry administered by the Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University School of Education. “Engagement” is the participation of students in activities linked with learning, personal development and other desired outcomes such as persistence, satisfaction and graduation.
The survey measures student engagement in two ways: 1) the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other educationally purposeful activities and 2) the ways the institution organizes the curriculum and other learning opportunities to create four specific experiences (or “themes”): academic challenge, learning with peers, experiences with faculty and a supportive campus. As shown in the chart, each of these experiences includes two or more activities (or “engagement indicators”).
The survey is taken by two groups of students: those completing their first year and those about to graduate. Each institution’s results are compared with those of “Carnegie peers” * or schools with a profile similar to DePaul’s as determined by the number and types of degrees awarded and the relative emphasis placed on teaching versus research. DePaul’s peers include St. John’s University, Pace University, Benedictine University and Marquette University.
Institutions use the data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience, inside and outside the classroom, which can be improved through changes in policies and practices.
“Our president’s office uses the survey findings during the strategic planning process. The data are used as part of the academic program review process when individual programs review and potentially revise their curricula. And Student Affairs looks for correlations between engagement and indicators of student satisfaction and success,” says Joe Filkins, an associate director in Institutional Research & Market Analytics
So, how good is student engagement at DePaul? “Historically, we’ve been particularly strong in several activities, including providing a forum for conversation among diverse groups, utilizing effective teaching practices in the classroom, and providing an open and supportive campus environment,” says Filkins. “These activities hold strong from beginning to end, from freshman year to graduation. Really, year over year, DePaul is an example of best practice in these areas.”
In fact, the average scores of DePaul first-year students exceed those for Carnegie peers across all indicators, with the exception of collaborative learning. Similarly, the average scores for DePaul seniors are higher across experiences, with the exception of three activities: learning strategies, collaborative learning and quality of interactions.
* The classification system was developed by the Carnegie Foundation in 1973.
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Source: The data charted here are an aggregate of the responses from both the 2013 and 2014 NSSE surveys. Scores for each item were recalculated to fit a 0-60 scale. Questions? Contact Joe Filkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.