BGSU faculty teaching, support have positive impact

What do students think of their experience in college? How many are participating in high-impact teaching and learning practices? The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) asks students around the country to reflect on their learning activities, then correlates their responses to research on student success.

Using the results, NSSE produces “A Pocket Guide to Choosing a College,” designed to help prospective students compare schools to find the best fit for their interests, needs and learning styles. In the 2015 Snapshot, it compares schools to their chosen peers as well as to other institutions in their Carnegie Classification, a framework designed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in the U.S. The report also measures changes in institutions’ responses over three years.

In 2013, NSSE revamped its questions to capture a more holistic view of the university experience and to look at high-impact practices such as undergraduate research, internships and service-learning. “Engagement Insights — Annual Results 2015” presented the spring 2015 results from more than 315,000 first-year and senior students.

According to the survey and related research, BGSU is on the right track with its emphasis on high-impact teaching and learning practices.

“Results for seniors show that participation in several high-impact practices (an internship or field experience, research with faculty, a culminating senior-year experience, or service-learning) was positively related to how well their major coursework prepared them for post-graduation plans for employment or further education,” the NSSE report said.

“These survey results show the commitment of our faculty to student learning and the student experience,” said President Mary Ellen Mazey. “They’re using developmentally appropriate high-impact teaching strategies to help ensure BGSU students are prepared for the next step in their lives after graduation.”

The survey compared BGSU with its selected peers and its Carnegie group for the percentage of students who participated in high-impact practices. For first-year students it looked at service-learning, learning communities and research with faculty. For the seniors it also included internships and field experiences, study abroad and senior capstone experiences.

A snapshot of Bowling Green’s survey responses shows, in overall experience with high-impact practices, 46 percent of BGSU first-year students participating in at least one such practice and 17 percent in two or more. This was better than other institutions within the Carnegie Classification.

By senior year the percentages had climbed to 70 percent of BGSU students having participated in two or more high-impact practices — the highest by a fair margin among all comparison groups — and 19 percent having had experience with one.

Looking at specific high-impact practices, 61 percent of BGSU seniors had had an internship, field or co-op experience, student teaching or clinical placement, while another 16 percent were planning to do so. Among our peer institutions, only 47 percent had participated in this category of experience, and 50 percent in our Carnegie Class.

BGSU seniors also reported taking more courses that involved a service-learning component (66 percent) than other comparison groups, as well as bit higher involvement in learning communities (31 percent).

Fewer BGSU seniors reported having done study abroad than those at peer and Carnegie Class institutions, with 12 percent having participated versus their 14 percent.

Other aspects of the survey grouped questions into the categories of academics, experiences with faculty, learning with peers, the campus environment and rich educational experiences.

Compared to peer institutions, BGSU seniors and first-year students also reported greater interaction with faculty, and seniors a more supportive environment plus more collaborative learning. BGSU students in both their first and senior years reported high interaction with peers, from working together on class projects and assignments to preparing for exams.

“In addition to helping guide prospective students, the responses also provide BGSU insight into how the University is doing in terms of achieving its learning outcomes,” said Dr. Rodney Rogers, provost and senior vice president. “They will also serve to inform faculty practice and professional development activities. The report is a rich source of data we will use to improve student learning.”

Faculty feedback for first-year students was among BGSU’s highest-performing categories compared to its selected peers.

In addition, first-year students are often interacting with others from different backgrounds, whether people with different political views (68 percent), to different economic backgrounds (75 percent) to people with a different race or ethnicity (73 percent).

“The report, particularly regarding the influence of high-impact practices on long-term student success, supports what Gallup and other national surveys have also found: that what students do in college is more important than where they go to college,” Rogers said.

NSSE also asks students how they perceive gains they’ve made through their college experience. Among the 10 areas cited, the area of highest perceived gain for BGSU students, at 86 percent, was “thinking critically and analytically.” Another 74 percent said they had improved at working with others as well as writing clearly and effectively. And 70 percent said they felt they had acquired job- or work-related knowledge and skills.

Asked about their satisfaction with BGSU, 87 percent of first-year students and 86 percent of seniors rated their satisfaction as excellent or good. As to whether they would definitely or probably attend BGSU again, 83 of first-year students and 80 percent of seniors said yes.