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SRU's posts strong NSSE numbers

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University students consistently rate their experience at the University higher than do students attending peer institutions, according to the latest report from the National Survey of Student Engagement.

"Research shows engagement, the time and energy students devote to educationally purposeful activities, is the best single predictor of their learning and personal development," said Amanda Yale, associate provost for enrollment services.

"The 2010 report clearly shows SRU students are engaged, in fact, SRU scored top numbers in all five benchmark categories," she said.

Yale said certain institutional practices lead to higher levels of student engagement. We are doing many of them that aid students, including creating opportunities for student-faculty interaction, student-staff interactions, and student-student interactions; increasing opportunities for learning actively and experientially; and setting high expectations for time on task and involvement.

The NSSE survey is designed to obtain, on an annual basis, information from scores of colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items represent and empirically confirm "good practices" in undergraduate education.

"That is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college," Yale said.

SRU uses data from the NSSE to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that are working well and to discover other areas that can be improved, she said.

"The survey response rate at SRU is well above the national and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education averages and the totals for the full NSSE group," Carrie Birckbichler, director of institutional research at SRU, said.

To focus discussions about the importance of student engagement and guide institutional improvement efforts, NSSE created five clusters or "benchmarks" of effective educational practice. They are:

(1) Level of academic challenge;

(2) Active and collaborative learning;

(3) Student-faculty interaction;

(4) Enriching educational experiences; and

(5) Supportive campus environment.

The Benchmark Comparisons Report compares the performance of Slippery Rock University with our selected peers, selected Carnegie peers and all NSSE institutions, Yale said.