National Survey Notes High Levels of Student Engagement at The Evergreen State College

(Olympia, Wash.) Students at The Evergreen State College reported higher than average engagement on all benchmark measures of the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which included academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and a supportive campus environment.

Evergreen students scored the college strongly on the NSSE category Academic Challenge. They indicated that they spend more time preparing for class, engaging in coursework that requires synthesizing, analyzing, applying theory to practical problems, and making judgments about the value of information. They also reported reading more assigned texts.

Compared with other first-year and senior-class students who reported to NSSE, Evergreen respondents indicated that they more frequently gave class presentations and contributed to discussions in class. They also indicated that they more often worked with other students on projects during class and outside of class, as well as discussed ideas from reading and classes with others outside of class- all measures of Active and Collaborative Learning. In terms of Student-Faculty Interaction, Evergreen students more often discussed ideas from class with faculty members outside of class. Evergreen first-years and seniors were less likely to come to class underprepared and more likely to report that they worked harder than they thought they could to meet their instructors’ expectations. They also reported greater institutional support for their academic success than their counterparts at other institutions.

Evergreen first-year students and seniors were significantly more likely to have participated in several enriching educational experiences than students at other colleges and universities, engaging in more independent study and more frequent conversations with students who are different from themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, political opinions, or values. Seven-hundred and twenty-two four-year colleges and universities participated in the survey. Evergreen conducts the National Survey of Student Engagement annually as part of its ongoing institutional assessment plan. The National Survey of Student Engagement works on the premise of providing a more complex reading on quality, with recognition that holistic assessments of many disaggregated factors provide for more accurate and useful comparisons on issues of concern for student learning than rankings systems that set institution wide averages of institutional resource measures.

While Evergreen also does well in traditional regional and national rankings, Evergreen’s regular participation in the National Survey of Student Engagement provides an additional national context and multi-year trend data through which to examine educational practices, emphases, and challenges. The survey had high participation at Evergreen with a response rate of near 30 percent of the 1550 students sampled.