NSSE: Mercer Students More Engaged than Students at Peer Institutions

November 14, 2008

Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON — Recently released National Survey of Student Engagement results show that Mercer University students have a more engaged educational experience than students at its peer institutions and at Georgia’s public universities.

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. Nearly 380,000 first-year students and seniors on 722 college campuses nationwide participated in this year’s survey, according to NSSE.

Mercer scored significantly higher in all five benchmark areas of the study compared to its peers in the Carnegie Master’s classification, including: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment. Among seniors, Mercer scored above Georgia publics in all five benchmark areas. Among first-year students, Mercer scored above Georgia publics in four of the five areas, while the University scored on par with those institutions in the enriching educational experiences category.

“We are pleased that our students again rated Mercer significantly higher than our peers in our Carnegie classification. We are especially proud that they rated their Mercer experience significantly higher than students in Georgia public institutions,” said Dr. Barry Jenkins, Mercer’s vice provost for institutional effectiveness. “We believe our students are our best advocates for the advantages of a Mercer education.”

Satisfaction rates among Mercer first-year and senior students were higher than those at Georgia four-year public universities and Mercer’s peer institutions when rating the entire educational experience.
 
Additionally, Mercer seniors reported that they planned to participate or had participated in a culminating senior experience at a higher rate than students at peer institutions and more than double the rate of students at Georgia public universities. More Mercer seniors also reported participating in research with faculty and in a study abroad experience than did seniors at the public universities or Carnegie peer group institutions.

Colleges and universities continue to add themselves to the survey, using it 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.

Mercer uses NSSE results as an assessment tool for its Quality Enhancement Plan, which is an element of the University’s accreditation. The evaluation of student experiences has become an integral part of the University’s efforts to continually improve its programs.

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

The University’s NSSE comparison group included Georgia’s major public four-year schools, including Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and the University of Georgia.

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 www.nsse.iub.edu.

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 the state’s only private NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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