Sewanee: The University of the South has again earned high marks in the 2003 edition of the National Survey of Student Engagement. The survey, which interviews both seniors and first-year students of participating schools, shows that Sewanee’s benchmark scores in four of five categories were higher than those in the comparison groups of liberal arts colleges, and other institutions nationally. The survey was created as a way to measure learning during the undergraduate years and it gives students a chance to evaluate their experiences. This year’s survey is based on information from 185,000 students at 649 different four-year colleges and universities. On this year’s survey, Sewanee students rated factors in four categories—level of academic challenge, student-faculty interactions, supportive campus, and enriching educational experiences—placing the university in the top ten percent of all colleges and universities in the study.In but a single category, active and collaborative learning, Sewanee was not in the top ten percent, but among the top 40 percent.
The student-faculty interaction benchmark examines how well students learn how experts think about and solve practical problems through their interaction with faculty members both inside and outside of the classroom. As a result, their teachers become role models and guides for life-long learning. The category of “enriching educational experiences” takes a look at those experiences that augment the academic program both in and out of the classroom including senior capstone experiences, internships, and collaborations with faculty members. The supportive campus environment benchmark give student and opportunity to offer their assessment of whether they believe the school they attend is committed to their success and whether it cultivates positive working and social relations among different groups on campus. The final category in which Sewanee scored in the top ten percent, level of academic challenge, was a measure of the challenging intellectual and creative work that is central to student learning and collegiate quality. According to NSSE, “colleges and universities promote levels of student achievement by emphasizing the importance of academic effort and setting high expectations for student performance. ”The faculty is our greatest asset at Sewanee, and the National Survey of Student Engagement affirms again the excellence of our faculty and its positive relationship with students,” said Doug Seiters, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Sewanee. “The NSSE report analyzes the effectiveness of teaching in terms of engaging students and has broad implications for the way our school provides meaningful and productive curricular and co-curricular activities for students. That Sewanee is rated so highly among the fine institutions across the country in such important categories as challenging our students and student productivity is extremely gratifying. We place a high premium on faculty and student collaboration and on high standards of attainment from this collaboration. According to NSSE, our design for combining efforts of faculty and students seems to be paying off. Much of the credit must go to the enthusiasm and devotion of our faculty.”