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National Survey of Student Engagement: CU-Boulder 2000

Findings of concern

Faculty engagement is uniformly low for all institutions. While students indicate that professors make clear what is expected from students and provide prompt feedback to students, respondents from all institutions have engaged in little discussion of ideas or career plans with faculty, and generally have not taken advantage of outside-the-classroom opportunities for student-faculty interaction (e.g., research collaboration, independent study, etc.)

Responses on the UCB senior survey consistently show that UCB seniors would spend more time interacting with faculty if they could repeat their academic career. NSSE results confirm that students are not engaging with faculty at levels the university strives to achieve or that students say they would prefer.

UCB seniors rank lower on diversity than any other school. UCB ranks about average among institutions in the extent to which students interact with others from diverse backgrounds; however, it ranks last in the extent to which seniors think the university contributes to their understanding of people from diverse backgrounds and in the extent to which the university encourages contact among students with different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Further analysis indicates that schools that scored highest on the diversity items have the highest percent minority enrollment. Thus, opportunity to interact with others who are different from oneself is enhanced by the sheer number of diverse students in attendance at the institution. Campuses with a higher percentage of minority enrollment are at an advantage in this regard. However, perceived institutional commitment to diversity is also related to the number of diverse students on campus. Campuses with a higher percent minority enrollment are perceived as having done more to encourage students to interact with, and learn from, diverse others. This implies that an assertion by UCB of its commitment to diversity may ring hollow until the numbers actually increase, and thus, opportunities for interaction among people from diverse backgrounds increase as well.

UCB ranks lower on advising than other AAU institutions, especially for seniors. While ratings of advisor accuracy and availability are moderately high, UCB ranks last, among seniors, in quality of academic advising. UCB seniors also rate the university's responsiveness to academic problems significantly lower than seniors at other schools. UCB seniors also rank last on a related item assessing the extent to which the university emphasizes support for academic success.

UCB freshmen rate advising somewhat higher than do UCB seniors, but still rank at the low end compared to the other institutions. For nearly all the institutions, including UCB, freshmen ratings of advising are higher than those for seniors. This may imply that universities generally do an adequate job of advising first year students, while efforts to meet the advising needs of upper-division students fall short. It is also plausible that advising quality is less crucial for freshmen given the more limited number of choices available to them coupled with the fact that many have not yet selected a major. Freshmen also may not have a full realization of how choices made in their first year will affect their academic progress later. It may be that only when students begin navigating the course selection process to meet major and graduation requirements, do advising quality and academic support become central issues.

Source of advising. Students were asked which source had provided most of their academic advising during the past year. As shown in the display, advising at almost all schools was primarily provided by official university advisors.

Other sources-friends and family, catalogs and publications, online registration, and university instructors and staff-are less likely to be the primary source of advising. Among UCB students, freshmen tend to rely more on friends and family; seniors rely more on catalogs and online registration, and in fact do not rely on friends. Relative to students at other institutions, CU freshmen were among the least likely to use catalogs and among the most likely to rely on friends and family.

Generally, students are dissatisfied with lower-division class size. Seven of the institutions asked students to indicate satisfaction with class size; generally, satisfaction is lower the larger the size of the university's entering class (and total enrollment). UCB seniors are near the low end of the satisfaction scale; this finding is not surprising given our relatively larger entering class.

For all institutions, seniors rate satisfaction with lower-division class size lower than do freshmen. Since it is unlikely that all schools have seen improvement in class size since the seniors were freshmen (a cohort effect), it may be that seniors use their current experience with smaller, upper-division courses as an anchor for retrospectively judging their satisfaction with lower-division courses they may have taken several years earlier.

UCB students are challenged less often as compared to other insitutions. Our respondents were on the low end of the scale in rating the extent to which they feel challenged at UCB and the extent to which they think the university encourages studying. In addition, UCB seniors are more likely than seniors at all but one other institution to come to class unprepared.

NSSE 2000 Table of Contents

Last revision 04/26/02

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