Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

DU students give their education experiences high marks in national survey

Eighty-eight percent of first-year University of Denver students report a favorable image of the institution, and 81 percent of seniors would choose DU again if they could start their college career over, according to the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

The 2009 report details results from a survey of 360,000 students attending 617 American colleges and universities. The findings provide prospective students with information about a university and show whether an institution provides a rewarding learning experience.

For the sixth year, DU students ranked their education higher than students at peer institutions in four categories, including level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and enriching educational experiences.

“The results we’ve seen in the National Survey of Student Engagement speak to the quality of the educational experience DU is committed to offering its students,” says Tom Willoughby, vice chancellor of enrollment.

The survey measured DU against institutions in three groups. The first group compared DU to all 2009 NSSE participants and the second group compared DU to schools with the same Carnegie classification. The last group measured DU against a list of peer institutions including Santa Clara University, Southern Methodist University, Syracuse University, Miami University, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Students gave DU high marks on the level of academic challenge, the amount of reading and writing and the extent to which faculty hold students to high standards. Eighty-two percent of first-year students felt the University places substantial emphasis on academics, and 57 percent of first-year students frequently work harder than they thought they could to meet faculty expectations.

Fifty-nine percent of first-year students frequently discussed readings or ideas from course work outside of class and by their senior year, 61 percent of students had participated in some form of practicum, internship, field experience, co-op or clinical assignment.

Students also reported a high level of engagement with faculty members. Eighty-six percent of respondents occasionally discussed career plans with faculty, 75 percent of first-year students indicated they frequently received prompt verbal or written feedback from faculty members, and 53 percent of first-year students said DU faculty members are available, helpful and sympathetic.

DU respondents also indicated they receive many enriching educational experiences. By their senior year, 78 percent of students said they participated in community service or volunteer work, and 61 percent of seniors have had a study abroad experience. By comparison, 15 percent of students at institutions in DU’s Carnegie class had studied abroad. DU students also completed foreign language coursework more often than comparison institutions.

“Participation in the NSSE provides DU with important information about our strengths and weaknesses so that we can continually examine ways to improve student learning and effective teaching,” says Janette Benson, director of the Office of Academic Assessment and associate professor of psychology.

The NSSE is sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and the Indiana University Center for Survey Research.


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