A select group of Keene State College students are currently eligible to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Select first-year students and seniors have been asked to fill out the survey to help [KSC] understand how much students are involved in various kinds of activities inside and outside of the classroom that have been found to produce success, according to KSC Associate Director for Assessment George Smeaton.
NSSE is conducted at KSC every other year and measures two responses from students: student engagement in learning and involvement in high impact practices. Smeaton said engagement in learning involves the effort students put into learning and the specific kinds of learning experiences they engage in. High impact practices include learning outside of the classroom, research with faculty, study abroad programs and senior capstone experiences, according to Smeaton.
The survey is distributed through email and has been ongoing for two months. The final email reminder was sent out on March 21. Students eligible have until March 25, to participate in the survey and one random participant will receive a $100 KSC bookstore gift card, according to Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Cathy Turrentine.
Eligible students must be first-time, first-year students who are enrolled in the fall 2015 semester and are expected to be considered first-year students in the spring of 2016. Eligible seniors must be enrolled in the fall 2015 semester and considered likely graduates in the spring or summer of the 2016 semester, according to Assessment Systems Administrator Tracy Kaletsky.
Turrentine oversees the survey as a whole. She said KSC conducts the survey for two reasons: to report the results to the NSSE trustees and to participate with many members of Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). The survey compares KSC students’ results to those of COPLAC. “ The NSSE tells us important things about our students and about the educational experiences that we provide. It’s based on research that demonstrates that engaged learning is the best learning,” Turrentine said. “It focuses on the ways students are engaged in their experience at KSC.”
The survey breaks down into categories. Some of the categories include higher-order learning, reflective and integrative learning, learning strategies, quantitative reasoning. According to the 2014 NSSE, KSC seniors and first-year students excelled in student-faculty interaction. Thirty percent of first year students reported they worked with faculty on activities other than coursework, as compared to 18 percent of COPLAC students. Sixty-five percent of KSC seniors reported to have talked about career plans with a faculty member, compared to 48 percent of the COPLAC. “It’s really nice to hear that our faculty is doing so well with [students],” Smeaton said.
As of March 10, KSC’s student NSSE participation was at 20 percent, compared to the national average of 29 percent at that time. “It’s time consuming,” Smeaton said.
The survey takes approximately 25 minutes to complete, according to Kaletsky. Kaletsky said the survey was sent to 1,502 students this year. In 2014, KSC’s overall participation was just above 34 percent, Kaletsky said.
Smeaton said he hopes to receive a high percentage of participation. “We’d hope that those who have had that email languishing in their inbox for a while might go back and take a look at it because it really is important,” Smeaton said, “The bigger portion of that group of students we get in the survey, the more confident we can be that the responses we get represent the whole group [of KSC students].”
Smeaton said he understands that not all eligible students will participate. “We realize we’re not going to get everybody…we want to have our demographic breakdown to be comparable to the campus as a whole and that’s another reason to get higher response rate,” he said. Smeaton said the higher the response rate “the better shot at getting a sample that is representative of the characteristics of the college as a whole.”
MacKenzie Clarke can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org