A new report from the National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) shows that freshmen and seniors at Saint Mary's College of California give the institution stellar marks for providing a distinctive educational experience, a challenging academic and supportive environment and for promoting a high level of faculty involvement with students.
The report, Promoting Student Learning and Institutional Improvement: Lessons from NSSE at 13 - Annual Results 2012, surveyed 285,000 first-year students and seniors attending 546 colleges and universities nationwide. Its goal was to provide comparative information about key effective educational practices for institutions of higher education, including levels of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty contact, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environments.
Provost Beth Dobkin said the high marks that the College received in the report clearly illustrate why Saint Mary's was included in the 2013 edition of the prestigious college guidebook Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change Your Mind About College. "Our freshmen and seniors rate us higher than students at other selective colleges and universities in all five NSSE constructs of effective educational practices," said Dobkin.
"These descriptions of our academic environment and high praise come from our most important critics, our students, and they underscore our unwavering commitment to inclusive excellence at Saint Mary's,” Dobkin added. "The survey numbers also reflect the 150-year-old tradition of providing a transformative educational experience for our students."
The report indicated that students at Saint Mary's rated the College’s approach to learning considerably higher than students did at two dozen private regional colleges, 30 other Catholic colleges and more than 150 Carnegie Class colleges (or similar bachelor’s and master’s degree granting institutions) across the nation which participated in the survey.
When questioned about the “level of academic challenge” at their college, 90 percent of first year Saint Mary’s students said the courses at the College emphasized “making judgments about the value of information in a class: a mark 19 points higher than students at Carnegie Class colleges; 14 points higher than “Far West” private colleges and 12 points higher than colleges in the survey’s Catholic consortium.
The survey, which included responses from 379 Saint Mary's students, reported that 91 percent of the College's first-year students rated their academic experience as good or excellent. The survey also reported that the College’s seniors have high regard for Saint Mary’s, with 89 percent indicating that they would choose the school again if they had to restart their college career. Additionally, an overwhelming number of seniors reported important connections with faculty, with 93 percent reporting they have discussed their career plans with a Saint Mary’s faculty member.
The survey also illustrated Saint Mary's commitment to educating students to excel in a global and inclusive society and to learning the importance of community service and civic engagement. The report noted that 74 percent of first-year students often interact with peers from different backgrounds, frequently engaging in serious conversations with those of a different race or ethnicity. By the time freshmen reach their senior year, the report said, 70 percent of Saint Mary’s students have participated in community service or volunteer work.
NSSE results provide information on how undergraduates at hundreds of colleges and universities spend their time and what they gain from attending college. For more information about the National Survey of Student Engagement visit nsse.iub.edu.
A downloadable PDF is available for more information on Saint Mary’s College of California’s results in the 2012 NSSE report.
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