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For Immediate Release

November 9, 2009

Student engagement at TCNJ is top notch, according to national survey

EWING, NJ … A national survey released today shows that a variety of colleges and universities have shown steady improvement in the quality of undergraduate education, and The College of New Jersey is no exception.

Designed to measure student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development, the results from the annually-administered National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they perceive they have gained from attending college. The 2009 report details results from an online survey of over 360,000 students attending 617 U.S. colleges and universities, including 1,124 randomly selected students from TCNJ.

NSSE LogoThe report shows that TCNJ students are highly engaged in their academic experience – both inside and outside of the classroom – and that TCNJ undergraduates rank well above their peers in enriching educational experiences. This benchmark includes NSSE items which provide measurement of students’ participation in complementary learning opportunities which enhance academic programs, such as diversity experiences where students gain valuable insights about themselves and others; the use of technology facilitating collaboration between both peers and instructors; and participation in internships, community service, and senior capstone courses, which provide opportunities to integrate and apply knowledge.

By the time they are seniors, 81 percent of students have participated in community service or volunteer work, and 77 percent have participated in some form of practicum, internship, field experience, co-op, or clinical assignment. Seventy percent of first year students say they frequently have serious conversations with students who are different from themselves in terms of their religious, political, or personal beliefs.

In addition, ninety-four percent of first year students report a favorable image of the College, and 88 percent of seniors would choose TCNJ again if they could start their college career over. Eighty-seven percent of first year students feel that TCNJ has a substantial commitment to their academic success.

“Our findings provide compelling evidence that colleges and universities can improve the undergraduate experience,” said Alexander C. McCormick, NSSE director and associate professor of education at Indiana University. “These are not just isolated upticks, they are patterns of steady improvement over a period of several years.”

Carol Bresnahan, provost and executive vice president of the College, said: “Those of us who work and learn at TCNJ are delighted, but not at all surprised, to see that the study documents what we have already observed: the outstanding engagement of our students, and their high degree of satisfaction with their experience at The College of New Jersey.”

“Seeing steady improvement at a large number of institutions but hardly any instances of decline suggests that these changes reflect intentional improvement efforts. Some institutions have made improvement a priority, and they are achieving it,” said McCormick.

Now in its eleventh year, NSSE's findings provide comparative standards for determining how effectively colleges are contributing to learning. Five key areas of educational performance are measured: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment.

More highlights from the 2009 TCNJ NSSE can be found here.