Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Milligan students more engaged in college life

Milligan College , Tenn. (Nov. 19, 2007) – Students at Milligan College who took a recent national survey reported that they are more engaged in college life than many of their counterparts at other institutions in North America.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, pronounced “nessie”) provides students and parents with information that gauges the quality of an undergraduate education by looking at how actively involved students are with their studies, professors and the campus community.

Milligan’s results exceeded those of its peers at other baccalaureate colleges in all five benchmark categories, according to Academic Dean Mark Matson. The five benchmarks are: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions, enriching educational experiences, and a supportive campus environment.

The latest NSSE results found that Milligan seniors report having done community-based research projects as part of a class, talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor, and participated in a culminating senior experience considerably more than many of their peers at other colleges.

First-year students at Milligan also report more participation in community service and discussions with faculty advisors about career plans. They also ranked considerably higher than their peers for participation in class discussions, as well as continuing those discussions outside of class.

NSSE questions focus on educational processes considered by informed observers and employers to be essential for a college educated person in the 21 st century. Typically students who take part in such high-impact activities during college have a higher performance in many areas, such as thinking critically, solving real world problems, and working effectively with others.

Milligan’s students were among 313,000 randomly selected freshman and seniors at 610 four-year colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to complete the survey. The NSSE study, titled “Experiences that Matter: Enhancing Student Learning and Success,” gives schools an idea of how their students are learning and what they put into and get out of their undergraduate experience.

“We do this survey and comparison in order to improve,” said Matson. “We want Milligan to be the very best college it can be. And the responses point to some of the unique aspects of Milligan which we want to maintain and strengthen. It also helps us identify those areas which need improvement, such as diversity.”

Milligan has carefully watched the results of questions asking students about their level of meaningful interaction with students of another race or ethnicity, which tended to be lower than its peer group. Milligan’s new diversity program is one way the college has used NSSE data to help them improve.

“Colleges are being called to be more accountable, and it makes sense to ask the question, ‘What are we doing that validates our mission?’ Are we actually doing what we say we are?” said Matson.

Most schools keep results confidential, using their data as an internal assessment tool. But this year, NSSE is encouraging participating schools to make their scores publicly available to enhance the college search. On Nov. 5, USA Today debuted a searchable online database of the NSSE benchmark data. Milligan was one of 257 colleges and universities willing to have their NSSE scores made public.

NSSE is supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and cosponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and The Pew Forum for Undergraduate Learning.

USA Today cover story and searchable database:
Milligan’s results:

Posted by on November 19, 2007.