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DePauw's Academic Programs and Campus Environment Earn High Marks in New National Report on Student Engagement

November 15, 2004

November 15, 2004, Greencastle, Ind. - A new, national study finds that students at DePauw University enjoy significantly more academic challenges, interactions with faculty, collaborations with others and enriching educational experiences than students at peer institutions and the national average at all colleges and universities. Further, the 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), "Student Engagement: Pathways to Collegiate Success," finds that DePauw's campus environment is far more supportive than the averages in meeting the academic and social needs of students. The report, which was released today, finds that DePauw outpaces peer institutions and national averages in every category.

The analysis is based on approximately 163,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at 472 participating four-year colleges and universities across the nation. The NSSE project is co-sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and The Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning.

"This highly regarded research quantifies what we've believed to be true: that thetech classroom.jpg DePauw experience is richer in intellectual engagement and opportunities for personal growth than what students will find on most other college campuses," says DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms. "The fact that we continue to improve in these key categories suggests the increase in our full-time faculty of 70 or so in recent years, our ability to increasingly attract strong students, and the upgrades we've made to the campus have combined to make DePauw a University of increasing national distinction."

The survey measures five benchmarks: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment. DePauw's scores are compared with the average of private liberal arts colleges, baccalaureate-liberal arts colleges, and a national figure, which represents all colleges and universities benchmarked by the NSSE.

Level of Academic Challenge (includes: preparing for class, number of assigned readings, number of written papers or reports, coursework emphasizing application of theories or concept to practical problems or in new situations, campus environment emphasizing time studying):

  First-Year Students Seniors
DePauw 65.8 68.0
Private Liberal Arts Colleges 59.7 63.3
Baccalaureate-LA Colleges 57.9 61.4
National Avg. 53.6 57.6

Active and Collaborative Learning (includes: asking questions/contributing to class discussions, making class presentations, working with fellow students in and out of class, participating in a community-based project as part of coursework)

  First-Year Students Seniors
DePauw 48.0 55.9
Private LA 45.2 54.1
Bac-LA 45.1 53.7
National 42.3 51.4

Student-Faculty Interactions (includes: discussing assignments and career paths with faculty member, working with faculty members on activities other than coursework, working with faculty member on a research project outside of course or program requirements)

  First-Year Students Seniors
DePauw 41.6 55.7
Private LA 37.0 54.8
Bac-LA 37.2 52.5
National 33.3 44.0

Enriching Educational Experiences (includes: participating in co-curricular activities, internships and community service projects; study abroad; serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity or of different religious beliefs, political opinions or personal values; using electronic technology to discuss or complete an assignment)

  First-Year Students Seniors
DePauw 33.7 58.0
Private LA 31.8 54.8
Bac-LA 30.5 51.2
National 26.7 40.9

Supportive Campus Environment (includes: provides the support students need to succeed academically, thrive socially and cope with non-academic responsibilities; quality of relationships with other students, faculty members and administrators)

  First-Year Students Seniors
DePauw 70.7 62.0
Private LA 66.5 62.1
Bac-LA 66.7 63.2
National 62.8 59.7

"Engagement is a critical factor in the educational process because the more time and energy students devote to desired activities, the more likely they are to develop the habits of the mind that are key to success after college including participating in civic affairs," says George Kuh, director of the NSSE and professor of higher education at Indiana University in Bloomington. "In addition, engagement is linked to grades and graduation, outcomes that everyone agrees are important."

The 2004 report also finds that nationally:

  • About half of first-year and senior students reported they "often" or "very often" had serious conversations with students of a different racial or ethnic group.
  • Only 10% of students rely on newspapers or magazines as their primary source of local, national or international news while more than 50% say television is their primary source.
  • Over the past five years, the percentage of seniors who participate in service learning has grown from 12% to 19%

"NSSE is firmly established as a source of valuable information about the student learning process and is providing university leaders with the comparative data needed to implement needed change," according to Molly Broad, president of the University of North Carolina.

Visit the National Survey of Student Engagement's Web site by clicking here.

DePauw is also ranked in the top tier of America's national liberal arts colleges for the fifth consecutive year, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2005 rankings. DePauw's first-year experience -- depauw.year1 -- is also cited as a "program to look for" by the annual guide. Read more by clicking here.

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