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National survey gauges collegiate experience

February 15, 2011 12:00AM

Students will have an opportunity to participate in one of the nation's largest collegiate surveys beginning this week - while paving the way for more student opportunities in the future.

Pittsburg State University will join more than 600 institutions of higher education in offering the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to students this spring. The survey, designed primarily for new freshmen and graduating seniors, gauges students' perceptions of their experience during college and their level of engagement in and out of the classroom.

The survey will be available online for students from Feb. 17 through June 1. Including questions ranging from the types of assignments they've completed to what sorts of campus events they've attended, the NSSE addresses a broad area of collegiate topics.

"The results of this study directly reflect the support our faculty and staff provide to our students," said Bob Wilkinson, director of Analysis, Planning and Assessment.

"They are the ones who really help make the higher education experience more than just learning in a classroom."

In past surveys, PSU students have ranked their college experience very high. Of the students surveyed last year, 85% ranked their entire educational experience as good or excellent and 89% said if they could do it all over again, they would still choose PSU. More than 80% ranked the quality of academic advising received as good or excellent.

Although past results have been positive, Wilkinson said the office is making a bigger push this year to get student feedback. With most universities reporting a response rate of about 25 percent, PSU is hoping to increase that number by ramping up on-campus marketing.

"We want to make sure students have the opportunity to connect with something outside of the classroom," said Dr. Steve Erwin, associate vice president for Campus Life and Auxiliary Services. "This survey is a great key in helping us know how the institution deploys its resources and organizes the curriculum and other learning opportunities to get students to participate."

Hopefully, feedback like that of senior Cortney Wimsatt will be the norm for NSSE respondents.

"I have had so many opportunities in and outside of the classroom to prepare me to enter the career world," Wimsatt said. "And I've had some great instructors that continue to help me get ready for the next step in my life."

©2011 Pittsburg State University