National Survey of Student Engagement Shows Satisfaction among EKU Seniors

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Eighty-seven percent of Eastern Kentucky University seniors say they would “definitely” or “probably” make the same choice of an institution if they could start their college education anew.

The 53 percent who indicated they would “definitely” make the same choice again is well above the national average of 38 percent among large, public master’s degree-granting institutions participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

The NSSE, developed and administered by Indiana University, assesses the extent to which college students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. “It measures what students do – the time and energy devoted to educationally purposeful activities – as well as the practices institutions employ to induce students to do the right things,” said Stacey Street, assistant director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at EKU.

The approximately 6,000 first-year students and seniors at EKU were invited to participate in the web-based survey last Spring, and 1,342 responded. The response rate of 23 percent was roughly equivalent to the national rate.

The EKU students were asked to measure the University in five areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, enriching educational experiences, student-faculty interaction and supportive campus environment.

Seniors ranked EKU ahead of other large, public master’s degree-granting institutions nationally in student-faculty interaction and supportive campus environment; EKU fared comparably to its peers in the other categories.

First-year students placed EKU ahead of its national benchmarks in student-faculty interaction; among freshmen, the university fared comparably to its peers in three of the other four categories.

In 2006, EKU adopted a Quality Enhancement Plan that calls for the university to develop informed, critical and creative thinkers who can communicate effectively. The efforts are paying dividends: Eastern ranked ahead of its national peers when seniors were asked to rate their progress in thinking critically and analytically.

Also, the university’s emphasis on academic rigor is reflected in the fact that 65 percent of EKU seniors reported they frequently worked harder than they thought they could to meet faculty expectations. Well more than half of the seniors said their exams “strongly challenged” them to do their best work. 

“Student success is a primary mission focus at Eastern Kentucky University,” said EKU President Doug Whitlock. “The NSSE data are important metrics we use to measure progress and inform our decisions.  This latest information both affirms our efforts and gives us guidance. I am pleased it shows we are on track.” 

Some other findings from the survey:

·         Eighty-six percent of EKU seniors said they at least occasionally discussed career plans with faculty.

·         Forty-six percent of first-year students and 54 percent of seniors at least occasionally spent time with faculty members on activities other than coursework.

·         Sixty-seven percent of seniors reported that their peers were friendly, supportive, and helped give them a sense of belonging.

·         Seventy-five percent of seniors indicated that they frequently received prompt verbal or written feedback from faculty members.

For more information about the National Survey of Student Engagement, visit

Published on October 27, 2011

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