Academics and Research / Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Students give DU high marks on faculty-student engagement

Eighty-eight percent of DU freshmen 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 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) released Nov. 10.

DU students continue to rank their education higher than peer institutions in four benchmark categories, including student-faculty interaction, level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, and enriching educational experiences.

The findings provide prospective students with valuable information about what it’s like to attend a particular university. The results also show whether an institution provides a rewarding learning experience.

“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 doesn’t rank the colleges that participate; instead it provides a comparison between individual schools and peer and national institutions based on surveys of freshmen and senior students. The survey measured DU with three different comparison groups: a self-selected peer group; a group of institutions with the same Carnegie Classification, including Loyola University, Saint Louis University, the Catholic University of America, the University of Alabama, Baylor University and Rutgers University; and with all 2008 NSSE participants.

Student respondents gave DU particularly high marks on the level of faculty-student engagement. Eighty-eight percent of seniors surveyed at least occasionally discuss career plans with faculty, 56 percent of freshmen spend time with faculty on activities other than coursework, and by their senior year, 26 percent of students have conducted research with faculty.

Eighty-one percent of freshmen feel that the University places substantial emphasis on academics, and 58 percent of them frequently work harder than they thought they could to meet faculty expectations.

Respondents also indicated that they are involved in active learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Student respondents contributed to class discussions and made class presentations more than students at comparison institutions. More than half of freshmen students frequently discuss readings or ideas from course work outside of class, and by their senior year, 65 percent of students have participated in some form of practicum, internship, field experience, co-op or clinical assignment.

DU student respondents also indicated that they have many enriching educational experiences at the University. By the time they are seniors, 77 percent of students have participated in community service or volunteer work, and 61 percent of DU seniors have had a study abroad experience, compared to only 12 percent at the Carnegie Class comparison institutions. DU students also complete foreign language coursework more often than the comparison institutions.

The NSSE is sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research in cooperation with the Indiana University Center for Survey Research. More than 380,000 randomly selected freshmen and senior students from 722 participating four-year colleges and universities nationwide took part in the 2008 survey.

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