Spring 2001
Vol 18 No. 1

Making Samford a Better Place

An Exceptional Gift

Working for the Common Good

New Business Leadership

Opening the Free Market

Trucking with Computers

Other Stories
Bellas Created 'Climate of Achievement' in Samford School of Business

Community Banking Stresses New Technology, Personal Touch

Faculty Compendium

Early Greek Influence on Jordan Strikes Jan Term Class Members

A Cappella Choir Invited to Sing in Russia

Wind Ensemble Performs at MENC Conference

Samford Students Out-Perform Peers in 'Engagement' with Learning: NSSE

Student Accolades

Samford History Prof's Book on King Jail Letter Examines Complexities of '60s Racial Scene

Humphreys Writes on Baptists and Calvinism

Book Edited by George, Smith Examines Racial Reconciliation

George Authors Doctrine Study

Tillette's Team Makes It Interesting During Seventh Straight Winner

Pharmacies Could Hold a Key to Effective Disaster Response

Cochran and Moore Write the Samford Record Book

Baseball Alumni: Send Your Name

Kenny Morgan Scholarship Winners



Samford Students Out-Perform Peers in 'Engagement' with Learning: NSSE

by James C. Eck

In 1997, Samford University launched its new curriculum, Co-neXus, which emphasizes interactive learning and interdisciplinary studies in core courses. The curriculum incorporates components of service learning, problem-based learning, and makes extensive use of technology to facilitate students taking an active role in learning.

In recent years, Samford has earned international recognition as offering rigorous degree programs that emphasize retaining information over the long haul rather than rote memorization of facts for regurgitation on exams. Research indicates that Samford's rigorous curriculum, which places significance on "engagement," is paying off.

The National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE] surveys undergraduates at four-year colleges and universities to assess the extent to which students engage in a variety of good educational practices. The survey includes items that represent student behaviors that are highly correlated with many other important learning and personal development outcomes of college.

The first survey was administered last year to nearly 152,000 freshmen and seniors from 276 four-year colleges and universities. A total of 300 Samford freshmen and seniors were chosen at random to respond. Overall response rate to NSSE was 42 percent; Samford's was 58 percent.

According to the authors, the survey is intended to help steer national conversation about collegiate quality away from resources and reputational rankings toward what matters more to student learning-good educational practice. Higher education research posits that students learn more when they are actively involved with the learning process. NSSE findings suggest that students are engaged with learning at Samford.

In most categories, Samford students outperformed their peers. For example, entering freshmen are much more likely to make a class presentation than their peers. In addition, freshmen and seniors are more likely to work with their classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments. These examples of student engagement correlated with higher levels of educational attainment.

Samford freshmen report that their exams emphasize essay and open-ended problems rather than short answer or multiple-choice questions. Samford students are more likely than their peers to retain what they learn and to develop the skills necessary for working with others while dealing with complex, real-world problems after graduation. The NSSE findings suggest that Samford is on the right track when it comes to offering undergraduate degrees of distinction. This is consistent with the University's efforts toward continuous improvement and ensures that Samford students receive the best education possible.

Samford students (from left) Jaeik Lee, Season Scott, Katie Nguyen, Anh-Dao Le, Jonathan Meacham, Jeff Kyle and Jeremy Coop team up to study pharmacy .

Dr. James C. Eck is director of Institutional Research at Samford University.