Western students take part in NSSE

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By Communications Staff
Friday, March 17, 2006
Western is looking for details on students' learning experience at the University through participation for the second time in the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE).

Designed to track student participation in a wide variety of programs and activities, this international survey targets first-year and graduating students.

Close to 8,000 surveys went out to Western students earlier this month, with a deadline for completion of March 31. This more than doubles the sample size when Western first took part in the survey in 2004.

Marty England, Director of Government Affairs and Institutional Research at Western, says survey results will allow the University to evaluate and compare Western's results with those of more than 500 other universities in Canada and the United States.

While Western does well in the annual Globe and Mail Report Card and McLeans University Rankings, these are more satisfactory-type surveys. England says the NSSE is more immediate by addressing issues students are dealing with in real time. This is the seventh year the NSSE has been administered, with more than 970 colleges and universities participating over the years.

"It will ask them what they're doing in their studies, what papers are required, their workload level," says England, adding a 31-per-cent response has already been obtained, with that hopefully increasing as reminders go out to those students who have not responded.

"It's a very useful tool for us in identifying areas where improvement is needed and where new funds may be required."

With less than favourable results from the 2004 survey blamed on provincial underfunding, England says the recent commitment of $6.2 billion in provincial funds over the next five years should begin to see improvements in the results, although probably not this year.

The survey creates five clusters, or benchmarks, to determine effective educational practice and includes student-faculty interaction, a supportive campus environment, active and collaborative learning, an enriching educational experience and level and academic challenge.

England is eager to receive the results, expected later this fall, which will help Western administration and deans in preparing and implementing plans to "improve the engagement of students with their classroom experience."

For more on the NSSE, visit: http://nsse.iub.edu/index.cfm

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