Student survey shows effective teaching, faculty engagement

NSSE_Logo copyYSU students report significantly higher levels of engagement in many areas compared to peer institutions, but challenges remain in making students feel more connected to campus services.

Those are among YSU’s results from the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement, taken by nearly 1,000 YSU first-year and senior students.

“Research shows that students who are more engaged tend to have more enriched educational experiences and, as a result, are more successful at completing their studies,” said Hillary Fuhrman, YSU director of Assessment. “Through this survey, we’re able to see how students perceive their level of engagement, and that helps us determine what we are doing well and to identify areas where we need to improve.”

The YSU Office of Assessment is in the midst of offering a series of campus “Lunch and Learn” workshops to review specific topics in the results. Workshops are 12:30 p.m. Thursdays April 10, 17, 24 and May 8 in Room 359 of Tod Hall.

Fuhrman said she also is planning three NSSE “Report Builder” workshops where participants learn how to create specific reports based on the results. The workshops are 2 p.m. April 8, 10 a.m. April 22 and 11 a.m. May 12.

In addition, Fuhrman said she will provide the results, broken out by college, to deans to inform their departmental and program engagement. She also plans to conduct workshops on how faculty and staff can dive into the data themselves and see if there are results of interest to them.

NSSE, in operation since 2000 and now used at more than 1,500 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, asks students about their experiences and practices. The results show, among other things, how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.

On an overview level, YSU’s results identify some places where students report higher levels of engagement than peer institutions, Fuhrman said. For example, first-year students consistently report that YSU uses more effective teaching practices than peer institutions. Seniors report high levels of engagement with faculty, such as talking about career plans and working with faculty on non-course activities.

The survey also revealed some challenges. For first year students, while they report effective teaching practices, they also report lower levels of a “supportive campus environment,” which means they perceive the institution doesn’t emphasize support services (either academic or social) or encourage participation in campus events and activities as much as  peer institutions, Fuhrman said. “Because we are primarily a commuter campus, engagement can look a bit different, but having a supportive campus environment is still an important factor in student engagement,” she said.

Fuhrman also said that communicating with students about resources available to assist in their studies as well as opportunities to connect with the campus and other students can influence perceptions. She said such efforts are already underway, including use of Starfish to connect students with academic support and increased promotion and offerings through the Office of Student Activities.

For more detailed NSSE results and information on the workshops, visit the Assessment homepage at



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