Wabash Students Again Among Nation's Most Engaged, NSSE Says

by Jim Amidon

November 13, 2003


Wabash College students are among the nation’s most engaged students and forge stronger relationships with faculty, according to data collected for the fourth annual report of the National Survey of Student Engagement.

The 2003 NSSE report is based on information from 185,000 first-year and senior students at 649 colleges and universities. The NSSE study gives schools an idea of how well students are learning and what they put into and get out of their undergraduate experience.

Last year, Wabash set national benchmarks in eight of 10 NSSE categories. This year Wabash students ranked their experiences in the 97th to 100th percentile in every category.

"Engagement is a critical factor in the educational process because the more time and energy students devote to desired activities, the more likely the are to develop the habits of the mind that are key to success after college, including participating in civic affairs," said George Kuh, the NSSE director and professor of higher education at Indiana University.

NSSE results annually provide comparative data for determining how effectively colleges are contributing to student learning. Five benchmarks are measured: 1) level of academic challenge; 2) active and collaborative learning; 3) student-faculty interaction; 4) enriching educational experiences; 5) supportive campus environment.

When compared to national averages, Wabash’s freshmen and seniors scored above the 90th percentile in five benchmark categories, while freshmen scored in the 100th percentile in the level of academic challenge provided at Wabash.

"I'm heartened again this year by the results of the NSSE survey, for they speak even more strongly to the wonderful and productive relationships that are forged between and among our students and faculty," said Wabash President Andrew T. Ford.

According to Wabash College Dean Mauri Ditzler, perhaps the most interesting data to come from this year’s NSSE survey is a summary statement that "men are generally less engaged than women, especially in the areas of academic challenge and enriching educational experiences."

"That Wabash is a college for men and our student scores are as high as they are is simply remarkable," says Ditzler. "There is a culture here that supports and encourages hard work. Our students become deeply engaged in their studies, and our faculty push them to exceed their potential."

Wabash greatly exceeds national averages and the averages of national liberal arts college in every category. Wabash’s results in the five benchmark categories compared with other national liberal arts colleges and national data are as follows. (Note: scores, not percentiles are listed.)

Level of Academic Challenge

  First Year Seniors
Wabash 68.2 69.9
Liberal Arts Colleges 57.9 61.1
National Average 53.9 57.3
95th Percentile (Nat’l) 62 64

Active and Collaborative Learning

First Year Seniors
Wabash 52.7 56.1
Liberal Arts Colleges 44.2 51.8
National Average 41.8 50.8
95th Percentile (Nat’l) 50 58

Student-Faculty Interaction

First Year Seniors
Wabash 53.8 65.0
Liberal Arts Colleges 42.4 51.5
National Average 37.2 44.2
95th Percentile (Nat’l) 47 57

Enriching Educational Experiences

First Year Seniors
Wabash 78.2 69.6
Liberal Arts Colleges 65.7 57.3
National Average 57.7 49.1
95th Percentile (Nat’l) 71 63

Supportive Campus Environment

First Year Seniors
Wabash 78.8 72.5
Liberal Arts Colleges 65.6 62.6
National Average 61.8 58.8
95th Percentile (Nat’l) 71 68

"The NSSE survey goes beyond myths and popularity contests in gauging how much teaching and learning take place at a college," says Wabash's Dean of Admissions Steve Klein. "I recommend that all families in the college search inquire about NSSE results at institutions they are considering.

"NSSE results help you understand the value of a Wabash education.  They nicely compliment what is written in Colleges That Change Lives," Klein added.  

Part of NSSE’s work involves the Institute for Effective Educational Practice and the Documenting Effective Educational Practice. Focusing on 20 colleges and universities nationwide with particularly strong NSSE scores, DEEP team members complete multiple-day site visits to identify effective practices that lead to student engagement. Wabash is one of the 20 colleges being studied by the DEEP project team.

"We will complete the field work for Project DEEP by the end of 2003 and shortly thereafter begin reporting our fndings about what these strong performing colleges and universities do to promote student engagement and student success," said Kuh.

 

For more information see:


Wabash College • P.O. Box 352 • Crawfordsville, IN 47933 • 765.361.6100