Brock receives heartening grades on student engagement

Feedback from a respected quality indicator for North American universities suggests that Brock students place increasing value on their university the longer they study here.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) polls thousands of first-year and senior-year undergrad students at participating universities in Canada and the U.S.

“This is an engagement survey as opposed to a satisfaction survey,” said Murray Knuttila, Provost And Vice-President, Academic.

“It focuses on students’ participation in, and assessments of, programs and activities that provide for their personal development. The survey is a valuable indicator for us to use as an institution to improve the overall learning experience for our students.”

The latest NSSE results, released last week, show senior students at Brock consistently scored the University higher than both the Ontario and Canadian averages on the following benchmarks:

  • level of academic challenge
  • active and collaborative learning
  • student-faculty intervention
  • supportive campus environment.

“That student scores improve dramatically by the time they become seniors tells us we are doing something right,” Knuttila said.

“Our commitment to small-group learning and the opportunities we provide for social and academic growth outside the classroom is unique to Brock. It’s something that students are not going to get at larger universities.”

Some examples of initiatives at Brock that help to make students full participants in their own learning experience include:

  • Experience Works: work-study programs that give students valuable academic- and research-based work experiences to enhance their resumés prior to graduation
  • Foundations in Service Learning: a credit-based course that pairs in-class learning with meaningful participation in the communities and civic life of Niagara
  • Mentorship Plus: an alumni-driven mentorship program that connects successful Brock graduates from across Canada with undergraduate students at the University
  • Participation Passport: rewards- and volunteer-based program designed to engage students and get them involved in campus and community events and projects

Brock students also topped provincial and national averages when asked “How would you evaluate your entire education experience at this institution?” and “If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution?”

In the evaluations, Brock is compared against other participating Ontario and Canadian universities deemed comparable to Brock in size and complexity.

Brock’s response rate from invited students was 37 per cent — stronger than the overall Ontario rate (33 per cent) and the total NSSE rate (28 per cent).

More than 1,400 different colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada have participated in NSSE since it was first administered in 2000. This is the third time Brock has participated in the survey. Prior to that, data was collected in 2006 and 2008. The next student survey will be administered in 2014.

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