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UNC Asheville Earns High Grades in National Survey

ASHEVILLE NC – UNC Asheville significantly outperformed national averages in key academic benchmarks identified in the just-released 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). UNC Asheville also scored significantly higher than the national average in the “deep approaches to learning” scale measuring activities which, according to the study authors, “result in effective and enduring learning.”

The NSSE is conducted annually by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, and the 2012 Annual Results, sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, were released today. More than 1,500 colleges have participated in the survey since its inception in the year 2000. The 2012 survey measured responses from 285,000 freshmen and seniors at 546 U.S. colleges and universities.

UNC Asheville significantly exceeded the national average in all five benchmarks for freshmen, and in four of the five areas for seniors. UNC Asheville also improved significantly, particularly with freshmen, setting all-time high scores for first-year students in all five academic benchmarks. The scores for seniors improved in three of the five benchmarks compared with 2010, when the university last participated in the NSSE.

“It’s great to have the NSSE survey affirm what we already know: Accomplished, interesting, and curious students are mentored by superb faculty and staff, whose work with students extends beyond the classroom,” said Chancellor Anne Ponder. “Fostering creativity and critical thinking is at the heart of the UNC Asheville Liberal Arts educational experience; those qualities are what employers need and appreciate in our graduates.”

UNC Asheville freshmen were found to write more, present in class more, and are more likely to say they have serious conversations with students of other races, ethnicities, religions and political views, compared with the national average.

On the “deep approaches to learning”(DAL) scale, UNC Asheville scored 69 for freshmen, compared to a national average of 61, and scored 70 for seniors, compared to the national average of 66. According to the NSSE authors, the DAL scale “has demonstrated strong correspondence with how much time students devote to their studies, perceived learning gains in college, and overall satisfaction.”

The five key academic benchmarks identified by the NSSE are:

  • Level of Academic Challenge – How challenging is your institution’s intellectual and creative work?
  • Active and Collaborative Learning – Are your students actively involved in their learning, individually and working with others?
  • Student-Faculty Interaction – Do your students work with faculty members outside the classroom?
  • Enriching Educational Experiences – Do your students take advantage of complementary learning opportunities?
  • Supportive Campus Environment – Do your students feel the institution is committed to their success?

Based on student responses to factual (i.e. how many papers will you write this semester) as well as opinion questions, the study authors assign numerical scores in each area to each participating college.

For more information about the NSSE, visit nsse.iub.edu.

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