The Richmond Register

Education

February 8, 2014

EKU above benchmarks for student engagement

RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University rates significantly higher than its similar benchmark institutions and other comparison groups on several measures related to student engagement.

According to the 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), EKU seniors ranked the university especially high on effective teaching practices, quality of interactions, and two areas related to the level of academic challenge: learning strategies and quantitative reasoning. Freshmen also rated Eastern higher than its benchmarks on effective teaching practices. In most other areas EKU’s scores were roughly identical to the university’s benchmarks.

The survey also showed that the percentage of both EKU freshmen and seniors who rated their experience as “excellent” or “good” and who said they would “definitely” or “probably” choose to attend the institution again given the opportunity to do so exceeded the benchmark average. In each case, 87-88 percent of the freshmen and seniors responded affirmatively.

Effective teaching practices, according to NSSE, include clearly explained course goals and requirements, courses taught in organized fashion, the use of examples and illustrations to explain difficult points, feedback on works in progress, and prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments.

Quality of interactions, in the Campus Environment category, encompasses interactions with fellow students, academic advisers, faculty, and student services and other administrative staff.

Learning strategies refers to students being able to identify key information from reading assignments, review notes after class and summarize what they learn in class or from course materials.

Quantitative reasoning refers to students learning to reach conclusions based on their own analysis of numerical information, use that numerical information to examine real-world problems and issues, and evaluate that others have concluded from numerical information.

The survey also asked EKU seniors how much their campus experience had contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development. Asked about their growth in thinking critically and analytically and writing clearly and effectively, approximately 80 percent of the seniors responded “very much” or “quite a bit.” Their answers reflect Eastern’s Quality Enhancement Plan, which calls upon the University to develop “informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.”

The latest NSSE report, A Fresh Look at Student Engagement-Annual Results 2013, details results from a survey of nearly 335,000 first-year and senior students at 568 participating bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities. Several changes in the questions were implemented in the most recent survey.

According to the NSSE, the results “illuminate the relationship between emphasizing higher-order learning in the classroom – sophisticated cognitive tasks rather than rote memorization, aligning with employer concerns for creativity and problem-solving skills – and other indicators of academic challenge such as the amount of assigned reading and writing.”

Paul Lingenfelter, former president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, said, “Authentic, extensive student engagement is essential for both quality and the scale required for widespread, affordable entertainment.”

The NSSE survey is sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. To view the complete EKU results, visit www.oie.eku.edu/ university-level-assessment.

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