Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Students rank DU high in student engagement

University of Denver students again rated their college experience higher than peer institutions in four of five benchmark categories, according to this year’s National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

The survey measures effective educational practice in five areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, enriching educational experiences, student-faculty interaction and supportive campus environment. The survey does not rank the more than 500 colleges that participate; instead it provides a comparison between individual schools and peer and national institutions based on surveys of first-year and senior students. The results are intended to measure student engagement and guide institutional improvement.

For the fifth consecutive year, students rated DU higher than peer institutions—including George Mason University, Loyola University Chicago, St. Louis University, the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the University of Texas at Dallas—in all but supportive campus environment.

“We’ve struggled with the supportive campus environment benchmark,” says Assistant Provost Sheila Summers Thompson. “But it’s getting better, and we’re catching up to where we want to be. We’ve made improvements in our score over the last few years, a reflection of substantial effort on the part of many Student Life staff.”
Summers Thompson says evaluating the numbers is difficult because the benchmark comparisons are relative based on year-to-year statistics. But DU did improve from a 53 rating in 2004 to a 58 in the environment category this year.

The NSSE also compares the participating institutions to schools that rated in the top half or top 10 percent in the survey. First-year students and seniors rated DU the same as or higher than top-half schools in academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, active and collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences.

More than 331,000 students from 557 participating colleges and universities nationwide took part in the 2006 survey. 

The NSSE is conducted by the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University Bloomington and co-sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning.

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