National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Benchmark

The final UNIVERSAL MEASURE used to evaluate student achievement is data from the NATIONAL SURVEY OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT (NSSE).

Among the many elements measured by this survey, the following have been chosen as the more direct measures for academic student achievement:

  1. Multi-Year Benchmarks (2013 and 2014 not available in this format) in Key Academic Areas
  2. High-Impact Practices
  3. Reading and Writing
  1. Multi-Year Benchmarks (Internal and External)

The following graphs provide internal data on five-year progress in each of the following areas, comparing First-Year and Senior Year data

Analysis of the internal freshmen-to-senior data reveals that level of academic challenge (LAC) is appropriately higher when evaluated by seniors than by freshmen, and has generally been increasing over the assessment period. The percentage of active and collaborative learning (ACL), though somewhat higher for seniors than freshmen, dropped in 2010; the University is slowly moving back up toward the 55% level achieved in 2008. The student-faculty interaction percentage varies much less over the time span for seniors than for freshmen. The enriching educational experiences (EEE) improved from 31% for freshmen to 44% for seniors. Further improvement in this area over the past two years (2013 and 2014) will be seen in section (b) below, measuring High Impact Practices. The BENCHMARK remains ongoing improvement from year to year.

The external University BENCHMARK for each of these categories by the time students become seniors is to meet or exceed the top 50% level as seen in the comparisons below, in which the scores of Brescia University students (first-year and seniors) may be compared to other colleges and universities using the NSSE.

NOTE: White boxes = Brescia University

Dark grey = top 50% of NSSE schools

Light grey = top 10% of NSSE schools

Active and Collaborative Learning (ACL)

The data reveals that, though students entering Brescia as freshmen are below the mean in the top 50% and 10% of higher education institutions included here for three of the four categories (student-faculty interaction being the exception), by the time these students become seniors, they are slightly above the 50% standard (62.7 to 61.8) in the LAC; the ACL percentage gap has widened ((50.5 to 56.2); the SFI — higher for Brescia freshmen than for comparable groups — has improved by five points but is now below the percentage rate for the top 50% standard; finally, the EEE improved 13 points, though still falling below the 50% group.

2. High-Impact Practices

 For the past two years, NSSE has measured what it calls “High-Impact Practices”— for freshmen: learning communities, service-learning, and research with faculty; for seniors: the same categories plus internships, study abroad opportunities, and capstone experiences. Participation in these experiences has become an increasingly important measure of Brescia University student achievement; increasing internship opportunities in academic programs was part of the institution’s previous Strategic Plan, and promoting such experiences has been woven even deeper into the current 2015-2020 proposal, as may be seen in Goal I, Objective 2 of the University’s  Updated Strategic Plan 2015-20 (draft, approval expected June 2015). The Objective contains several benchmarks toward which the University will move during the next five years. The following graphs show not only that the number of these experiences increases significantly between freshmen and senior year, but also that they are increasing annually in both categories:

3. Reading and Writing Data

The following new NSSE data charts the amount of time students spent reading for their courses and the number of pages of assigned writing, compared to other Catholic colleges and universities:

The charts above (provided by NSSE only for the last two years) indicate that Brescia students spend less time reading both as freshmen and as seniors than their counterparts at other Catholic colleges and universities; however, by the time Brescia students become seniors, they are writing more than these counterparts. The discrepancy between Brescia freshmen and the overall average of Catholic colleges and universities is related at least in part to the fact that Brescia is a “low selectivity” institution; that fact makes the gains between freshman and senior year even more significant.

As an institution that defines a credit hour based on the Carnegie classification, Brescia students should expect to spend approximately 24 hours per week doing homework for a full-time 12-credit hour schedule of of four 3-credit classes. Reading is certainly not the only component of that work, but could be expected to take up a significant portion of it. It should be noted that neither Brescia nor the larger comparison group has students reporting that they are spending an appropriate amount of time one would expect for a full-time semester’s work of 12 credit hours minimum.

The BENCHMARK in both areas of reading and writing is to at least meet the comparison standard of other Catholic colleges and universities.