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Jewell students score impressive results compared with national, regional & local peers in National Survey of Student Engagement
Contact: Rob Eisele816-415-7574
November 5, 2007

The results of a recently administered national survey indicate that students at William Jewell College scored measurably higher than their counterparts nationwide in important indicators of academic success.

The survey results indicate that Jewell students scored higher than their counterparts when measured against those in three key groups: the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Baccalaureate Liberal Arts category in which William Jewell is ranked nationally; a group of regional peer colleges; and all institutions participating in the survey. In addition to comparing favorably with other national liberal arts colleges throughout America, William Jewell students scored significantly higher in measures of academic quality when compared with local and regional peer institutions.

According to results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which surveyed first-year and senior students at 610 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, Jewell students scored significantly higher than their counterparts in the category of “Culminating Senior Experiences.” The survey defines these experiences as capstone programs, thesis preparation and comprehensive exams.

Sixty-five percent of Jewell students participated in the culminating senior experience, compared with 54% at peer institutions in the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Baccalaureate Liberal Arts category in which William Jewell is ranked nationally. Thirty-six percent of Jewell students conducted research with faculty, compared with 29% in the Carnegie Foundation Baccalaureate Liberal Arts peer group.

Jewell students also scored significantly higher than a local and regional peer group that included such institutions as Kansas City’s Avila, Baker and Rockhurst universities and Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa; Drury University in Springfield, Mo.; Saint Louis University; and Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. Jewell students’ research with faculty percentage was 36%, compared with 16% for the regional peer group; 28% vs. 17% for study abroad opportunities; and 65% vs. 40% for Culminating Senior Experiences.

The results are contained in the NSSE’s “Experiences That Matter: Enhancing Student Learning and Success,” released on November 5. More information can be found at www.nsse.iub.edu

“It is gratifying to learn that William Jewell students are engaged in the learning process in ways that traditionally predict successful outcomes in undergraduate education,” said Dr. Anne Dema, vice president for institutional effectiveness. “The survey results indicate that Jewell is succeeding in the key areas of its institutional mission to provide an academically challenging liberal arts education within a supportive, spiritually enriching environment.”

William Jewell students also scored measurably higher than their Carnegie Foundation peer institutions in measures of Active and Collaborative Learning, in which the survey quizzed first-year students about class presentations and “discussion of ideas from readings or classes with others outside of class.” Fifty-seven percent of first-year Jewell students completed class presentations, compared with 34% for the Carnegie peer group. The discussion rankings for William Jewell students were 71%, compared with 62% for their Carnegie peers.

“Students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and are asked to think about and apply what they are learning in different settings,” said Dr. George D. Kuh, director of the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning, which administers the survey. “Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares students to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily during and after college.”

The connection between active engagement of first-year students and the high percentage of seniors participating in advanced research and capstone projects indicates a positive outcome for William Jewell students. “What we believe this demonstrates is that over the course of four years, we are taking students to a much higher level of independence and proficiency and increased knowledge within their disciplines,” Dr. Dema said.
The National Survey of Student Engagement is designed to obtain information from colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in learning and personal development programs. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. NSSE survey items represent empirically confirmed “good practices” in undergraduate education—that is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college.
“What students do during college counts more in terms of desired outcomes than who they are or even where they go to college,” said Dr. Kuh. “The implication for estimating collegiate quality is clear. Those institutions that more fully engage their students in the variety of activities that contribute to valued outcomes of college can claim to be of higher quality compared with other colleges and universities where students are less engaged.”
The institutions participating in the 2007 NSSE will use the data collected to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices consistent with successful outcomes in undergraduate education. The data is also designed for use by prospective college students, their parents, college counselors, academic advisers, institutional research officers and researchers in learning more about how students spend their time at different colleges and universities and what they gain from their experiences.
The 2007 National Survey of Student Engagement is based on information from about 313,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. The survey is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

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