A recent national survey of Winthrop’s first-year students and seniors indicates they are highly satisfied with their educational experience, while interacting with faculty in a supportive collegiate environment where student success is paramount.
“The National Survey of Student Engagement is the gold standard for gauging the impact of learning practices on undergraduate students,” said President Dan Mahony. “At Winthrop we’re very proud of what our students’ responses tell us.”
Winthrop’s 2016 NSSE Snapshot indicates:
• A large majority of first-year students and seniors (84%+) rated their educational experience in college as excellent or good.
• Winthrop seniors’ interaction with faculty is significantly higher than peers at other institutions who participated in NSSE.
• Both first-year students and seniors report that Winthrop offers a very supportive environment, compared to its peers.
• Seventy percent of Winthrop seniors report at least two high-impact experiences.
• Close to 60 percent of students reported that they discussed career plans with a faculty member.
The NSSE results are one of the few measures in the country to determine how colleges and universities have an impact on the learning and personal development of their students. Just as SAT or ACT scores reflect to an extent what a student knows heading into college, NSSE asks first-year students and seniors what they have experienced during their college years.
Winthrop’s NSSE participants – 569 first-year students and seniors – were among students from 557 North American institutions whose university experiences were reflected in the 2016 National Survey of Student Engagement report. A total of 322,582 students responded to the survey, 45 percent of which were first-year students and 55 percent seniors.
The survey covers four general themes–academic challenge, learning with peers, experiences with faculty and campus environment–and also reports on high-impact practices. Examples include participation in a learning community, a course that has a service-learning project, research with a faculty member, internship, study abroad experience or a capstone course.
Additionally, NSSE’s 2016 analysis of engagement indicators reveals that Winthrop’s scores for freshmen are comparable to high-performing institutions on five of 10 indicators, with two scores – “Discussions with Diverse Others,” and “Supportive Environment” – higher than the top 10 percent of all NSSE institutions. Among seniors, Winthrop’s scores are comparable on fully seven of 10 indicators, with the same two scores – “Discussions with Diverse Others,” and “Supportive Environment” – higher than the top 10 percent of all NSSE institutions.
As employers look for workers who can communicate, solve problems and work in teams, Winthrop seniors say they have gained those vital skills:
• Four out of five reported improved writing, speaking and critical thinking skills.
• Three-fourths talked frequently with those of a different background, which reflects Winthrop’s emphasis on diversity.
• Sixty-nine percent said Winthrop encouraged events that address important social, economic or political issues.
• Seventy-four percent said they acquired job-related skills at Winthrop.
“Winthrop’s NSSE results affirm our approach to a student-centered university experience, which is the focus of our recently announced strategic plan,” said Mahony. “The Winthrop Plan will guide the university through the next decade and includes initiatives to drive enrollment, retention, student success, diversity and fundraising.”
Winthrop officials have used NSSE results over the years to improve student learning and to sharpen the focus on engagement through the development of initiatives such as University-Level Competencies and the Global Learning Initiative.
Since 2003, Winthrop has participated in 11 NSSE administrations. Winthrop publicly reports its NSSE results on an easy-to-read web site that is highlighted by NSSE for integrating campus initiatives with its NSSE results and was featured in NSSE’s 2013 June newsletter as a model institutional approach. In 2014, Winthrop was one of 25 institutions featured in Volume Three: Lessons from the Field (pg. 18) for using its results to assess student achievement related to Winthrop’s University-Level Competencies.
Winthrop appeared in a NSSE newsletter in March 2016 for using its institutional results to assess inclusive excellence and a 2016 NSSE annual report for using the results to improve retention and graduation with special populations.
NSSE was established with a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Subsequent research and development projects have been supported by Lumina Foundation for Education, the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College, the Spencer Foundation, The Teagle Foundation and the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative.
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