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UNF issues National Survey of Student Engagement to calculate student involvement

By: Hali Harden, Contributing Writer


Starting Feb. 8, UNF will administer email invitations to freshmen and seniors to take part in the National Survey of Student Engagement.


Judith Miller, UNF executive director of assessment and NSSE institutional coordinator, said the survey will ask freshmen and seniors questions that will help UNF get a student perspective on learning and engagement.


Miller said students can expect to see general questions about class workload and professor office visits and personal questions about grades and race.


The survey allows participating universities to identify aspects of their undergraduate experience that need improvement, according to the NSSE website. The website also revealed 1,493 universities have participated in the survey since 2000.

Dr. Judith Miller, UNF NSSE institutional coordinator. (Photo by Sean Murphy)


All information gathered goes to the UNF Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, and individual answers are not shared with other institutions, Miller said.


The survey was first administered at UNF in 2006, then again in 2009. This year will be the third administration of the survey at UNF. Miller said the survey is given every three years because it typically returns so much information that UNF wouldn’t be able to make changes and see results in a year’s time.


The 2009 survey results revealed students’ freshman year needed improvement, Miller said.


Jeff Coker, dean of undergraduate studies and member of the NSSE planning committee, will be making changes to the freshman program starting fall 2012.


One change freshmen can expect is more involvement between faculty members and students beyond the classroom.


Many UNF freshmen said they felt they lacked a connection with faculty outside the classroom, according to the 2009 NSSE survey results. Coker said national studies show that students benefit from increased interaction with faculty.


Other changes include requiring freshmen to live on campus.


Information from the 2009 NSSE survey, national studies data from other schools and additional data from UNF records reveal students who live on campus typically engage in campus life more than those who do not, Coker said.


Although the 2009 NSSE survey only had a 20 percent participation rate, Coker said the survey results, along with national studies and data, provided enough feedback to draw conclusions from. But Coker hopes to get better participation in 2012.


“We’re always looking for data we can bring to the table to improve student experience,” Coker said. He also said he supports administering the NSSE and believes it is a helpful instrument to improve student experience since it collects first-hand information from UNF students.

A nearby sign counts down the days until NSSE begins. (Photo by Sean Murphy)


Jenny Stuber, UNF sociology professor and member of the NSSE planning committee agrees with Coker. Data collected from the NSSE is highly beneficial for improving student experiences at UNF, she said.


Stuber hopes to see more students participate in the survey in 2012.


“If [the NSSE planning committee] could get larger numbers of students to complete the [NSSE], more can actually be done to identify those things on our campus that are really working and highlight those,” Stuber said.


Miller hopes for 40-50 percent of freshmen and seniors to participate this year, which she said is typically the best response rate most institutions receive on surveys, although some smaller colleges receive as much as 95 percent.


This year, Miller said she launched an all-out publicity campaign to urge students to participate in the survey. Her efforts include setting up a table at Osprey Plaza, putting up signs, giving out coffee koozies, setting up a Facebook page, putting the dates on the electronic signs where students come onto campus and running ads that will be on the TV screens in the Student Union. These ads will feature multiple-choice questions from the 2009 NSSE survey and a number which students can text their answers to for a chance to win an NSSE T-shirt.


Miller said some of the results from this year will be used to gain data that specifically relates to writing and retention and how UNF can improve both.


The NSSE provides a way for students to contribute to making UNF a better institution in the long term, Miller said.


Emails will be sent to students on Feb. 8. Reminder emails will be sent Feb. 15, Feb. 23, March 20 and March 28, or until the student engages in the survey, at which time reminders will cease.


Email Hali Harden at [email protected].



Check out this animated short based on the article you’ve just read. It was created by students in the Applied Journalism class at UNF.



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