Results from national survey of students show areas where KU excels

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Class is held outside during a nice spring day. According to the latest results from NSSE, KU students report significantly higher levels of meaningful interaction with their faculty than students at many of KU's peer and aspirational institutions.LAWRENCE — Students at the University of Kansas report significantly higher levels of interaction with their faculty than an average of other students at many of the nation’s top research universities.

KU has released results from the 2018 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).  The survey measures undergraduate student participation in programs and activities that promote learning and personal development at their respective universities.

“NSSE provides a benchmark for how our students are connecting with the university through various learning experiences, but more importantly, it provides data that we can use for institutional improvement,” said DeAngela Burns-Wallace, vice provost for undergraduate studies. Several results from the survey demonstrate that KU students are more likely to report being engaged in enhancing activities and learning opportunities than their peers at Association of American Universities institutions. The AAU, of which KU is a member, includes 62 distinguished research universities in the United States and Canada that strive to advance society through education, research and discovery.

First-year and senior students at nearly 500 institutions nationwide participate in NSSE. KU’s response rate, at 35 percent, is among the strongest for a university of its size and classification. Among the findings:

  • Forty-three percent of KU first-year students reported talking about career plans with a faculty member often or very often. An average of only 29 percent of first-year students at AAU institutions reported this type of interaction.
  • Thirty-two percent of KU first-year students said they discussed their academic performance with a faculty member. An average of only 24 percent of their peers at AAU institutions reported similar talks.
  • Thirty percent of KU seniors reported working with a faculty member on activities other than coursework. An average of only 25 percent of their peers at AAU institutions reported similar interaction.
  • Seventy-seven percent of KU seniors said they plan to or have completed a culminating senior project or experience. An average of only 64 percent of their peers at AAU institutions declared a similar activity.

This year’s higher response rate also offers important insight for faculty and educators. KU departments can use the robust findings to guide curriculum redesign efforts and co-curricular program development.

KU’s participation in NSSE is part of an intentional set of strategies to enhance the undergraduate experience. NSSE captures the extent to which students report engaging in activities that promote academic challenge, foster interactions with peers and faculty, and contribute to a supportive campus environment. Students also report if they have participated or plan to participate in high-impact practices like learning communities, undergraduate research and service learning.

“Our NSSE results tell us more about students' experiences in our courses and programs,” Burns-Wallace said. “This knowledge enables us to refine and expand practices that support the success of all students.”

KU’s NSSE results, including an interactive dashboard, are available to faculty, staff and students at Departments interested in learning more about ways to use NSSE results may request a presentation by submitting an online request at KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence will be leading workshops on using NSSE results to provide insight into curriculum enhancement. KU’s NSSE website will also share examples of how departments and programs are using NSSE data to enhance student success.