Mercer Again Earns High Marks In Survey of Student Engagement

December 7, 2007

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Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037 or (800) 837-2911, ext. 4037

MACON — Mercer University continues to score significantly higher than its peers on a major survey of student engagement and learning. The National Survey of Student Engagement results for the University showed Mercer had achieved above its peers in all five benchmark areas of the study.

The survey also confirmed the University’s outstanding performance in overall learning. The first-year and senior-year satisfaction rates of Mercer students were higher than those of Mercer’s peer institutions in rating the entire educational experience. Among undergraduate students at the regional academic centers and on the Macon campus, more than 90 percent of students stated they found their experience to be “good or excellent.”

“The results of this year’s survey were very encouraging,” said Dr. Barry Jenkins, vice provost for Institutional Effectiveness at Mercer. “The results tell us that we are engaging our students at a very high level and that we are providing a high-quality educational experience. The results also show that our adult students in our centers are engaged as well, and I think that is very laudable.”

Mercer students also rated faculty highly for availability and helpfulness, compared with Mercer’s educational peers in the Carnegie Master’s classification. Additionally, Mercer students reported that they planned to participate or had participated in a culminating senior experience at a higher rate than students at other peer institutions. And in a reflection of University’s long history of service, 85 percent of Mercer students said they had participated in a community service or volunteer work as a student, in comparison to 75 percent of students reporting volunteer work at peer institutions.

Mercer scored significantly higher in four of the five benchmarks of the study including: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment. Mercer was slightly above its peer group in the category of student-faculty interaction.

The NSSE is administered each spring to first-year and senior-year undergraduate students at participating schools. Mercer opts to have its students sampled each year from its Macon campus as well as the University’s four regional academic centers. The survey assesses student involvement in the educational opportunities provided by colleges and universities nationwide. In this year’s survey, approximately 323,000 first-year students and seniors on 610 college campuses nationwide participated in the survey, according to NSSE.

Colleges and universities continue to add themselves to the survey, which they are using as tool to understand and improve the undergraduate experience, according NSSE. Prospective students and their parents can also use the results to gain insight into how students at different institutions spend their time and what students feel they have gained from their educational environment.

Similarly, Mercer is using the NSSE as an assessment tool for its Quality Enhancement Plan, which serves as part of the University’s accreditation efforts. The evaluation of the experiences of students has become an integral part of the University’s efforts to improve, Jenkins said.

“We use this to assist in our internal evaluations to strengthen our programs,” Jenkins said. “This is truly evaluates our output, the actual experiences of our students, and allows us to change our programs to effect their learning in a positive way.”

Mercer’s peer group is defined by the Carnegie Classification of Master’s Institution, which are institutions with diverse post-baccalaureate programs, including first professional, but are not engaged in significant doctoral-level education.

About the NSSE:
The National Survey of Student Engagement project, supported by a grant from the PEW Charitable Trusts, was first conceived in 1998. Since its inception in 1999, about 1,200 different colleges and universities have participated in the NSSE. Detailed information concerning the NSSE and its role in measuring the effectiveness of higher education can be found at
http://nsse.iub.edu/index.cfm.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
www.mercer.edu.
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