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NSSE Survey Ranks RC High

Thursday, January 22, 2009  
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National survey: Rockford College
ranks high in student engagement

For immediate release – 1/22/09
Contact: Chuck Brown, Communications – 815-226-3374

Students at Rockford College think highly of the college on everything from accessibility to faculty to a supportive campus environment, according to a report from a national survey of college students. 

The report, issued by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), is based on surveys that evaluate undergraduate education at more than 750 participating schools involving some 380,000 students. Rockford College has taken part in the survey for several years as a means to gauge how well the school is helping students succeed in college. 

The good news for Rockford College is that, in each of the five “benchmarks of effective educational practice” established by NSSE, the college scored higher than or equal to similar colleges as defined by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It also scored higher than selected peer institutions and exceeded virtually all scores from the last survey of Rockford College students. 

“These are very positive signs that the college is effectively engaging students in ways that help them learn and grow,” said Robert L. Head, Rockford College president. “I also believe it says a lot about our faculty and staff and their commitment to student success.”

The NSSE project surveys both first-year students and seniors to learn about student behaviors that have been shown by extensive research to improve student learning. Some of the college’s highest-performing areas fall under the categories of active and collaborative learning, student–faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment. 

For instance, senior students participate in community-based projects as part of regular course work more often than peer institutions. First-year students, meanwhile, discuss grades, assignments, or career plans more often. Both groups rated their relationships with college administrative personnel and offices more positively than students at peer institutions.  

Rockford College recently retooled its orientation and retention office to provide closer, ongoing student contact, and set up a “success series” for students on such subjects as test-taking anxiety and overcoming procrastination. The college also has a low student-teacher ratio of 11-1, making it easier for students to interact with their professors, and offers tutoring and other supportive services.  

“I have always received the help and attention I needed, so I am not surprised the college scored so well,” said senior Tony Hardin, a psychology major from St. Peters, MO, when told of the survey results. “Everyone here wants you to succeed.”

Here are a few examples of what goes into the five benchmarks for effective educational practices as part of the NSSE survey:
 
• Level of Academic Challenge: How much time was spent preparing for class? How many readings and assigned writings were there? Did courses emphasize applying theories to practical problems? 

• Active and Collaborative Learning: Did students ask questions in class? Make presentations? Tutor others? Participate in community-based projects?
 
• Student-Faculty Interaction: Did students discuss grades or assignments, career plans, or readings with faculty? Work with faculty on research or community projects?

• Enriching Educational Experiences: Did students talk with people of different religions, ethnicities, or political opinions? Did they study abroad? Learn foreign languages or culture? Do an internship?

• Supportive Campus Environment: Does the campus support students academically and non-academically? What is the quality of students’ relationships with other students, faculty and administrators?

A summary of survey results and comparisons with other colleges follows. (The + sign shows where the college scored better than other groups. Blank spaces means it is about the same.)

 

 

 

Comparison Groups

NSSE Benchmark

Class

Rockford

College

Selected

Peers

Carnegie

Class

NSSE

2008

Level of Academic Challenge

First-Year

56

 

+

 

Senior

60

 

+

+

Active and Collaborative Learning

First-Year

48

 

 

+

Senior

55

 

 

+

Student-Faculty Interaction

First-Year

45

+

+

+

Senior

48

 

+

+

Enriching Educational Experiences

First-Year

34

+

+

+

Senior

46

 

+

+

Supportive Campus Environment

First-Year

70

+

+

+

Senior

66

+

+

+

For more information on Rockford College, see www.rockford.edu.

On the Web: National Survey of Student Engagement: www.nsse.iub.edu


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