The results are in for the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, pronounced “nessie”), administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. Once again, Centre College scores higher than institutions of its type and higher than the average for all institutions in each of the five NSSE engagement categories (listed below).
The 2010 NSSE results are based on surveys completed by more than 362,000 randomly selected first-year students and seniors from 564 U.S. colleges and universities. They measure student engagement in five important areas:
* Level of academic challenge
* Active and collaborative learning
* Student-faculty interaction
* Enriching educational experiences
* Supportive campus environment
Centre was ranked highest in the engagement categories of supportive campus environment, level of academic challenge and enriching educational experiences. This means that Centre exceeded the scores of the other comparison group schools in both the first-year and senior surveys for all three of these categories. For the other two groups, Centre is ranked higher than comparison group schools in either first-year student or senior survey results.
The high “supportive campus environment” ranking indicates that students surveyed believe Centre is committed to their success and cultivates positive working and social relations among different groups on campus.
The high “enriching educational experiences” ranking indicates that students enjoy the complementary learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom that augment the College’s academic programs, including internships, study abroad, undergraduate research and service learning.
And the high “level of academic challenge” ranking indicates that students agree Centre emphasizes the importance of academic effort and of sets high expectations for student performance.
The College has participated in NSSE every year since the survey began in 2000 and is one of only a handful of institutions to have participated every year and made all of its NSSE results available to the public.
In looking at Centre’s NSSE results over the past 10 years, the College’s performance remains steadily higher than that of comparison schools, with continued improvement in the areas of active and collaborative learning, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment based on survey results of first-year students. Based on survey results for seniors, the College sees an improvement in all these areas, in addition to level of academic challenge.
Most comparisons among colleges are made on the basis of reputation and inputs. For example, the ranking system used by U.S. News and World Report, in which Centre ranks in the national top 50 (the highest ranking of any Kentucky institution), depends on perceived prestige, finances and admissions data. (For a complete list of how Centre fares in a range of rankings and guidebooks, click here.)
However, NSSE relies on students’ views of the outcomes of their education—in other words, what actually happens after they enroll. The NSSE survey asks students questions such as: How many hours do you study? How often do you talk to faculty members or students with different political beliefs? What are some of your outside-the-classroom activities?
The survey measures how well colleges and universities engage their students in the essential learning experiences of higher education.
Research shows that the best predictor of learning and personal development among college students is the amount of time they spend “engaged” in their own education. NSSE is designed to measure the extent to which colleges effectively engage students in their education.
Participation in NSSE and the release of results to the public is voluntary, although certain states, including Kentucky, require that their public institutions of higher learning take part and publish their results.