National Survey Tracks Five Straight Years of Academic Progress at SOU

National Survey of Student Engagement shows SOU students are more academically engaged than students at other campuses

(Ashland, Ore.) – If you’re a first year student at Southern Oregon University, it’s likely that, compared to students at other four-year colleges and universities, you write more, work more with other students on projects, and make more class presentations. You’re also more likely to read more books on your own for academic enrichment/enjoyment, attend more artistic events, vote in local and national elections and discuss assignments with professors than students at comparable four-year colleges and universities.

Those are just some of the highlights from the 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). SOU is one of 564 colleges and universities that participated in the survey in 2010. More than 35 percent of last year’s SOU first year students and seniors completed the NSSE questionnaire.

NSSE measures five key areas of student engagement; level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment. Scores are then compared with similar institutions as well as with all campuses that participated. SOU first-year students perform as well or better than peer institutions in all five of the benchmark areas. SOU seniors performed as well or better in three of the benchmark areas.

“NSSE is a tool that allows us to see what we’re doing well and where we need to focus more effort,” says SOU Provost James Klein. “We have used NSSE reports to make consistent improvement in our academic programs.”

From 2006 – 2010, SOU has seen the following increases in first year student NSSE performance:

Level of academic challenge +5.5%

Active and collaborative learning +5.5%

Student-faculty interaction +25.6%

Enriching educational experiences +6.2%

Supportive campus environment +11.4%

“These indicators clearly validate both the quality of SOU faculty and their commitment to student success,” says Klein. “They also reflect our success in living our institutional values of connecting students with faculty and providing a challenging and supportive liberal arts experience. The liberal arts are about writing, speaking, research, critical thinking and creative problem solving. Our first-year students are engaged in these activities more than their peers – and thus are being positioned to be successful graduates.”

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