December 11 , 2006
Survey: Emory undergrads challenged academically
By Beverly clark
In a national survey of college freshman and seniors, Emory College undergraduates reported that they experienced higher levels of faculty interaction and academically challenging and enriching course work than their national peers.
The 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement also noted that Emory students tend to have higher levels of diverse social interactions, community service participation and nearly three times as much participation in study abroad than their peers at other schools. Peer institutions included schools with the same Research I University Carnegie classification as Emory.
The 2006 NSSE report is based on information from about 260,000 randomly selected first-year and senior students at 523 four-year colleges and universities. The NSSE study, “Engaged Learning: Fostering Success of All Students,” gives schools an idea of how well students are learning, and what they put into and get out of their undergraduate experience. The NSSE 2006 Report was sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The five key areas of educational performance measured by NSSE include: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment.
The survey found the College’s student body overall to be well-rounded academically, socially and culturally — a reflection of Emory’s liberal arts focus, said Thomas D. Lancaster, senior associate dean for undergraduate education.
“I think the results demonstrate the diversity of the Emory experience that allows students to carve out their own niche within the context of certain commonalities, such as challenging academic work both inside and outside the classroom, strong faculty relationships, devotion to community service, and strong participation in co-curricular activities and study abroad,” Lancaster said.
An analysis of the NSSE data by Kathryn Sweeney, director of educational research in the College, also found:
• Emory College students spend an average of six to 10 hours a week participating in co-curricular activities on campus, compared to their peers who average one to five hours a week;
• 90 percent of College seniors have taken foreign language coursework (compared to 51 percent of their peers), and 49 percent have done study abroad programs, compared to just 17 percent of their peers;
• 80 percent of seniors reported that they had participated in community service or volunteer work, compared to 64 percent of their peers. More than half of the Emory freshman reported the same, compared to 37 percent nationally;
• By their senior year almost 50 percent of students report high levels of student-faculty interaction, compared to fewer than 40 percent of their peers at the Carnegie schools. Emory students often discussed grades or assignments with teachers, sometimes talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor, and received prompt feedback from faculty;
• Satisfaction with academic services and advising was average and in line with Carnegie peers in the survey;
• By senior year, 47 percent worked on a research project with a faculty member outside of course or program requirements compared to only 24 percent of their peers;
• Emory students were more satisfied than their peers on issues of diversity of ideas in the classroom and among students. Students were asked how often diverse perspectives (different races, religions, genders, political beliefs, etc.) were included in class discussions or writing assignments. Emory students also reported that they often had serious conversations with students of different racial/ethnic groups, religious beliefs, political opinions and personal values.