ACU tops national average, according to survey of student engagement

For immediate release
Nov. 15, 2001

Abilene Christian University's scores in the National Survey of Student Engagement topped national scores in four of five benchmark areas of the survey.

ACU scored higher than the national average for both seniors and first-year students in the areas of supportive campus environment, enriching educational experiences, and student interactions with faculty members. In the area of active and collaborative learning for first-year students, ACU's scores also topped the national average.

"These high scores reflect ACU's commitment to providing our best services and faculty to help freshmen make the critical transition to college life," said Dr. Mark Davis, dean of first-year students at ACU.

The NSSE study challenges the view of college quality popularized by national news magazines that rate colleges largely on the basis of their institutional resources and public reputation. The survey focuses on whether colleges are using their resources to help students learn and get the most out of school.

"A school's academic reputation as judged by others says very little about the extent that active learning, student-faculty interaction and a supportive environment characterize a campus," said George Kuh, director of the NSSE project.

NSSE evaluates institutions based on five standards for determining how effectively colleges are contributing to learning: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment.

"Students and parents should be asking colleges the kinds of questions NSSE asks," said Russ Edgerton, director of the Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning. "How much do students study and how rigorous are their assignments? How much writing is expected? How often do students interact with their teachers in meaningful ways? Policy-makers and accrediting bodies should be asking these questions too."

ACU's highest score was in the area of supportive campus environment, with a score of 63.9 for seniors and 68.3 for first-year students, compared to the national average of 56.8 for seniors and 60.2 for first-year students.

"ACU's high scores in the area of creating a supportive campus environment are especially gratifying, because they reflect an intentional campus-wide effort to provide high quality services and programs that help students succeed at ACU," Davis said.

Among first year students, ACU also had a notable score in the area of student interactions with faculty members, scoring 4.7 points above the national average.

Davis said this high score is directly related to new advising methods for freshmen.

"Our new advising model where all freshmen are advised by their University Seminar faculty member certainly contributed to these high marks," Davis said. "ACU is blessed with student-centered faculty who know that personal attention and outside of class interaction is critical to learning and development."

In addition, schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, of which ACU is a member, scored, on average, at or above the national average in every category.


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Last update: Nov. 15, 2001

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