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New survey benchmarks college outcomes
A national survey released Nov. 13 shows that Miami University students take part in practices important to their learning at consistently higher levels than students at comparable universities.
In fact, Miami was one of only 19 universities out of 276 participating in the survey to be cited as a "strong performer" on the basis of responses by seniors to a series of questions about the academic challenges they have faced.
Questions ranged from the number of written papers to whether courses emphasized applying theories or concepts to practical problems.
The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is a new initiative funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts designed to collect information directly from undergraduates about the quality of their education.
NSSE provides prospective students with data on colleges and universities that truly affect learning, explained Miami Provost Ronald Crutcher.
"Rankings such as those used by U.S. News & World Report put too much emphasis on test scores of entering students or the percentage of alumni who donate. Miami clearly does well on these measures, but whats important is what happens to students while theyre here, what value we actually add to their lives," Crutcher said.
More than 63,000 first-year students and seniors, selected randomly by NSSE from participating four-year schools nationwide, were asked 40 questions designed to provide benchmarks for five areas important to learning and personal development.
Those areas include academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student interaction with faculty members, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment.
"One of the items that we can be proudest of is that Miami is in the top 20 percent of comparable institutions- that is doctoral-intensive universities-in each of the five benchmark areas," said Denise Krallman, assistant director, institutional research at Miami.
"If higher education is to demonstrate accountability, we need meaningful benchmarks to measure our performance," said Provost Crutcher.
"This survey, for the first time, provides us with information about the kind of job Miami is doing preparing students to be global citizens. And as we acquire data spanning multiple years, NSSE will be even more helpful."