WMU News

Students get chance to take part in national survey

Feb. 19, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- A number of freshmen and seniors at Western Michigan University will soon have a chance to weigh in on the quality of their undergraduate experience, when they are asked to take part in a national survey aimed at determining how well colleges and universities marshal their resources to provide a good learning environment.

About 1,000 randomly selected members of this year's freshman and senior classes will receive surveys by mail over the next four weeks. They, along with students at about 365 other colleges and universities around the nation, will be asked to share their views on the National Survey of Student Engagement. The survey will include questions focusing on how and where students spend their time, the nature and quality of their interactions with faculty members and peers, and what they have gained from their class work. The survey has been characterized by researchers in charge of the effort as "an anonymous suggestion box" that can lead to changes in higher education.

Dr. Linda Delene, WMU's vice provost for academic planning and assessment, says this is the first time WMU has opted to be a part of the annual survey, which is now in its third year. WMU will be one of 10 Michigan colleges and universities taking part. A good response rate by students will be invaluable both to WMU and to higher education in general, she says.

"This is a chance for students to have a national impact by responding locally to questions about their home institution," Delene says. "Their answers will be available to us immediately to analyze and help direct us in determining what areas might need improvement. Their answers also will be combined with those of students from across the nation and can be used by state and national agencies, governing boards and others to help direct policy changes."

Answers to the surveys, which take about 15 minutes to complete, will be compiled to produce both institutional and national data. Each participating institution will get comparative data from similar institutions as well as its own general response data and data for important sub-populations within the school. National data is reported each spring in a report highlighting the survey's most important findings for the year. The report, "National Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practices," has received significant national media attention in the two years that it already has appeared.

The 2002 National Survey of Student Engagement is being administered by the Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning at Indiana University. It is being supported by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is co-sponsored by the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning and the Carnegie foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the survey is available online at <www.iub.edu/~nsse>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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