A national survey of college students found that William Woods University students are far more likely to attend cultural events than students at other schools—something administrators attribute to WWU’s innovative LEAD (Leading, Educating, Achieving and Developing) program, now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“Our goal in creating LEAD was to encourage and acknowledge active student participation in university life beyond the classroom,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said. “LEAD is designed to expand students’ interests and enrich their university experience. It is intended to promote and reward campus and community involvement that contributes to a complete, well-rounded liberal arts background.”
Each year the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) asks students at hundreds of colleges and universities, including William Woods University, to reflect on the time they devote to various learning activities. The topics explored are linked to previous research on student success in college.
When asked, “How often have you attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater or other performance?” 86 percent of WWU first-year students reported “often” or “very often.” That’s compared to 30 percent of all first-year respondents to the NSSE survey. Of WWU seniors, 61 percent said “often” or “very often,” compared to 24 percent of all senior respondents to the NSSE survey.
Another question asked about encouragement to attend campus events and activities (special speakers, cultural performances, athletic events, etc.), and 60 percent of WWU first-year students reported “very much,” compared to 29 percent of all respondents.
In addition, 79 percent of WWU first-year students and 77 percent of seniors report participating in co-curricular activities, compared to 59 and 53 percent respectively on the NSSE survey.
The report from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), “Major Differences: Examining Student Engagement by Field of Study—Annual Results 2010,” details results from a 2010 survey of 362,000 first-year students and seniors attending 564 U.S. colleges and universities.
NSSE’s annual survey results provide diagnostic, comparative information about effective educational practices at participating colleges and universities. The results can be used to inform improvement efforts.
“Since WWU began administering the survey in 2004, it has improved in several of the five categories,” Dr. Katricia G. Pierson, associate dean of academic assessment, said. “Faculty members review the results each fall and then, either through committees or through individual endeavors, develop ways to improve and strengthen student engagement. I believe faculty commitment is reflected in the improved scores.”
Included among those surveyed this year were 181 randomly selected William Woods students, who answered questions on five major topics, all of which improved from 2004:
1. Academic challenge, up from 52 to 53.7 percent
2. Active and collaborative learning, up from 48.2 to 59.6 percent
3. Student-faculty interaction, up from 45 to 53.2 percent
4. Enriching educational experiences, up from 37.4 to 44.9 percent
5. Supportive campus environment, up from 59.1 to 62.9 percent
“NSSE gathers valuable evidence about what students are doing with the resources for learning that their school provides,” according to Stanley Ikenberry, president emeritus and regent professor at the University of Illinois and co-director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.
Students reported a supportive campus environment at William Woods, with 83 percent of first-year students saying they are satisfied with their overall educational experience and 80 percent saying that the institution has a substantial commitment to their academic success.
The following selected areas are some in which William Woods University seniors rated their institution higher than other seniors who took the NSSE survey:
· 75 percent report that faculty are available, helpful and sympathetic, compared to 57 percent.
· 42 percent “very often” discuss grades or assignments with an instructor, compared to 27 percent.
· 91 percent discuss career plans with faculty “often” or “very often,” compared to 42 percent.
· 83 percent report they spend time working with faculty members on committees and projects outside of course work, compared to 53 percent.
· 24 percent of WWU students (compared to 19 percent overall) have done research with a faculty member—something William Woods promotes through its Mentor-Mentee program.
· 77 percent have participated in some form of practicum, internship, field experience, co-op or clinical assignment, compared to 50 percent.
· 83 percent have completed or plan to complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, etc.), compared t