By Amanda Wright
Changes to the General Education curriculum at Roanoke College were based on the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) survey results between 2000 and 2012. The survey is used by many colleges across the country.
Freshman and seniors have the opportunity to take the surveys which provide feedback on classroom life at Roanoke. According to Dr. Jack Steehler, director of institutional research, NSSE data gives the college a quantitative comparison to other private colleges with similar features and programs on how well Roanoke College engages students in and out of the classroom.
What is meant by student engagement? For students, it is the “time and energy devoted to activities that can be seen as educationally purposeful.” For Roanoke College, it is the resources and educational practices that are used in guiding students to make positive choices beyond their education. When an academic institution and students work toward the common goal of student engagement, the student experience grows, not just in academics, but in personal development and greater satisfaction.
Since the NSSE has been administered, certain areas in the curriculum have improved significantly. For example, the category of “making class presentations,” rose by 22 percent. Some other areas that the college has improved upon include self-reflection and evaluation, understanding others’ ideas, and asking questions in class.
Compared to larger universities, Roanoke is at or above par with their peers, and the NSSE survey ensures each year that the implementation of the INQ program is successful and demonstrates where improvements may be needed.
Areas that are currently being improved are “cultural diversity” and “student-to-student interactions.” Since results from the senior survey were in agreement with NSSE results, administration and faculty have been working with students to improve these areas. From these results, Residential Living Programs were established to create a greater sense of community for students and the Student Government Association has recruited Senators and has worked diligently to make sure every area on campus is well represented. Campus clubs and organizations are being encouraged to combine efforts to sustain larger campus events.
The survey shows that a quarter of the student body feels that “student-to-student interactions fell short of expectations upon entering Roanoke College.”
The average response rate to NSSE was about thirty-three to thirty-five percent of those eligible to take it. If you are a freshman or senior and have been selected to take the survey, please do so. It is an important tool used by the campus community to gauge the success of the curriculum and the student body. The survey is open for the next three and a half weeks. Each week, a participant is chosen at random and has the chance to win a prize.