Students once again rank Clemson high in national engagement survey
CLEMSON — The vast majority of Clemson University seniors and freshmen say they would choose Clemson if they could go back in time and pick a school all over again.
The 2014 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) report shows that 92 percent of seniors and 92 percent of first-year students would choose Clemson again, compared to 82 and 85 percent, respectively, at peer schools.
Clemson once again excelled in multiple areas of the NSSE, including the collaborative learning indicator, which gauges the amount of time students spend helping each other understand course material, complete projects and prepare for exams. Clemson’s results in these areas were 14 to 17 percent higher among first-year students than those at peer schools.
When asked to what extent their courses challenge them to do their best work, 64 percent of Clemson freshmen gave “high challenge” scores, compared to 53 percent at the comparative schools. For seniors, the results were 60 percent “high challenge” compared to 58 percent at the other schools.
Clemson seniors also gave exceptionally high scores when asked if they completed a culminating senior experience (20 percent higher than at peer schools), worked with a faculty member on a research project (19 percent higher), participated in an internship or similar program (19 percent higher) and if the institution emphasizes providing opportunities to be involved socially (17 percent higher).
Not surprisingly, Clemson’s strongest showings were in the “institution emphasis on attending campus activities and events” category, with freshmen 20 percent and seniors 23 percent higher than at comparison schools.
Debra Jackson, assistant to the president and vice provost for academic affairs, noted that another highlight of the study was that 95 percent of Clemson seniors said they have participated in high-impact practices, which are special undergraduate opportunities that have positive associations with student learning and retention. That is compared to 85 percent in schools within the same classification
“Eighty-one percent of our seniors have participated in one or more of these high-impact opportunities,” she said. “This is extremely important. The university is committed to providing every student opportunities for engagement and leadership, and these results support and provide evidence that we are meeting this goal.”
Jackson also pointed out that since the university participated in a special civic engagement module this year, students scored well in helping people resolve their disagreements with each other, leading a group where people from different backgrounds feel welcomed and contributing to the well-being of the community.
“Clemson didn’t score sky-high on every item, but that is exactly why the university chooses to participate in such studies,” said Jackson.
“As in all surveys, the rich data that we received indicates that we are doing some things extremely well and there are other places where we can improve,” she explained. “We need to examine the results with the faculty and staff. There are opportunities for us to try new strategies and continue to improve.”
Since its launch in 2000, more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada have participated in the NSSE. This year, 640 U.S. and 73 Canadian institutions participated.