National survey gives high marks to 'DePauw experience'

Friday, December 2, 2011

A newly released national study finds the academic challenges provided by DePauw University are within the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation and that a large number of DePauw seniors report their educational experiences have been enriching.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) study, "Fostering Student Engagement Campuswide -- Annual Results 2011," is the result of a survey of 416,000 first-year students and seniors attending 673 American colleges and universities.

NSSE compares the DePauw experience with what is provided to undergraduates at peer institutions and the national average at all colleges and universities.

The report also finds that DePauw seniors score significantly higher than both peer institutions and all schools in the categories "Active and Collaborative Learning" and that first-year students at DePauw encounter a higher "Level of Academic Challenge" than found on other campuses.

NSSE's annual survey results provide diagnostic, comparative information about effective educational practices at participating colleges and universities. The results can be used to inform improvement efforts.

Among other 2011 findings:

-- 93 percent of first-year DePauw students feel the institution places substantial emphasis on academics; 69 percent frequently work harder than they think they can to meet faculty expectations.

-- 24 percent of first-year DePauw students wrote at least one paper of more than 20 pages in length, compared to 15 percent at peer institutions.

-- 89 percent of DePauw first-year students feel the institution has made a substantial commitment to their academic success.

-- By their senior year, 81 percent of DePauw students participated in some form of practicum, internship, field experience, co-op or clinical assignment; 32 percent of students had done research with a faculty member; 83 percent of students had participated in community service or volunteer work.

-- By their senior year, 83 percent of DePauw students had made a class presentation, compared with 66 percent at peer colleges. Sixty percent said the institution substantially encourages contacts among diverse peers, versus 51 percent at peer schools.

According to Alexander C. McCormick, director of NSSE and associate professor of education at Indiana University, "The central message is that providing opportunities, activities and environments supportive of learning and student success is a concern that should permeate the campus."

NSSE's 2011 survey is sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

DePauw has an enrollment of 2,394 with students come from 46 states and 36 foreign countries. A faculty of 230 full-time professors ensures class sizes that average 17.5 students.

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