New York Times reveals how Centre students
are engaged in learning
January 21, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
part in internships. Kim Burke '08 (above) is one of many Centre
students to have interned at the Louisville Zoo, where students
engage in research and interact closely with the animals.
Eighty-one percent of Centre students polled for the 2009 NSSE
ranked the relationships between students and professors in the
highest tier. At Centre, professors like Sheldon Tapley (above)
offer personal education in everything from art to zoology.
What exactly does "student engagement" mean?
The New York Times set out to answer this question earlier this month by sharing the results of the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
Begun in 2000, NSSE is administered the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. The survey has become a valuable resource for prospective college students, their parents, high school counselors and others.
Yet, until now, many have struggled to understand what exactly the survey reveals.
Succinctly explained by The New York Times, the level of engagement can be determined by asking students questions like, "Do you sit in class hoping you won't be called on to discuss that (oops, I never finished it) book? Or do you eagerly linger at office hours to probe one more idea?"
Student engagement—according to the college students themselves—is just what the survey measures, and The New York Times calls it "a widely accepted tool for accessing what undergraduates gain from attending their colleges."
And what Centre College students gain from attending this institution, NSSE shows, is remarkable.
In the 2009 survey report, Centre ranked higher than the average for all institutions in all of the survey's engagement categories.
Based on surveys completed by more than 360,000 randomly selected first-year students and seniors from 617 U.S. colleges and universities, the most recent results demonstrate student engagement in five key areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student interactions with faculty, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment.
The New York Times data shares additional information, including how seniors at a number of colleges and universities rate their time spent in class, time spent preparing for class, their internship experiences and the quality of relationships with faculty.
Each senior evaluated their school on these four issues, and the results show that Centre ranks extraordinarily high in each of the four categories.
Eighty-one percent of polled Centre students rated the quality of relationships between student and faculty as a six or seven. Only one other school, Bard College, had a percentage equally high in the category.
When reporting the "time spent preparing for class per week," 83 percent of Centre students said they spend 11 or more hours on homework and studying. Thirteen percent said they spent six to 10 hours each week preparing for class, and only four percent said they spend less than five hours studying each week.
Of course, time spent outside the classroom is also an important aspect of a well-rounded college education, and Centre students enjoy a variety of extracurricular activities.
When answering the question about time spent in extracurricular activity, 66 percent of Centre seniors said they spend six or more hours per week in these activities, while 28 said such activities take up one to five hours per week.
With nearly 100 campus organizations and teams, Centre offers its students a wealth of options for after-class entertainment. Whether participating in an academic, activist, athletic, Greek, political, religious, service or other group, students stay as busy—and engaged—outside the classroom as inside.
For the final NSSE category reported in the Times data, which asked students whether they had an internship or field experience, 73 percent of Centre students polled said yes.
Landing an exciting internship at Centre is easy thanks to the College's Career Services office. The staff not only helps students find internships related to their field of study or plans for the future but also helps with resume writing, job searches (before and after graduation), applying to graduate school and more.
Click on a link below to learn about a few of the many internships completed by Centre students.
For more information about NSSE, click here.