Grand Valley State University
April 18, 2006
As part of the Claiming a Liberal Education initiative, GVSU participated in the 2004-05 administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The NSSE is a nationally normed survey designed to assess the extent to which students are engaged in educationally effective activities. A report of Grand Valley’s student responses was circulated in Fall 2005, indicating several areas of concern. That report was based upon comparison of results to a relatively ambitious peer group of NSSE participants.
In response to concerns about the appropriateness of the peer group used in the initial report, a supplemental peer analysis has been performed, using peer institutions believed to be more similar to GVSU. The revised peer group includes the following institutions:
Central Missouri State University
CUNY – Bernard M Baruch College
James Madison University*
Minnesota State University – Mankato
Montclair State University*
Portland State University*
Saint Cloud State University
University of Minnesota – Duluth
University of North Carolina – Wilmington
This can be regarded as a more “contemporary” peer group, while the initial group was more of an aspirant list. The present list includes 4 schools (marked with asterisks) that are on our unofficial short list of institutional peers, plus 6 others that are similar to GVSU in size, selectivity, and mission. The composition of the list is constrained by some factors beyond our control – only institutions that voluntarily participated in NSSE can be included, and the list must include at least 10 institutions.
Results of the comparison to this redefined peer group are similar to those reported earlier in many areas, but differ greatly in two major areas – Academic Rigor and Gains from College.
(Unless noted otherwise, findings reflect responses from freshmen and seniors.)
· In general GVSU is very similar to the revised peer group in terms of academic rigor, and there are some indicators where GVSU performs better than peers. This differs substantially from the impression that arises from comparing GVSU to the initial peer set or to the national norms.
o Seniors report typical expectations in their courses at all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy except memorization (the lowest level). This seems to indicate a healthy balance of advanced and rudimentary cognitive tasks.
o GVSU seniors spend more time preparing for class than peers.
o GVSU students (freshmen and seniors) report a greater institutional emphasis on studying and academic work than those at the revised peer list schools.
o Freshmen report above-average involvement in projects that require integrating ideas from multiple sources.
o GVSU freshmen are more likely than peers to come to class unprepared.
o GVSU seniors are more likely than peers to say they’ve examined the strengths and weaknesses of their own views on a topic.
Gains from College
While GVSU Seniors’ self-reported
gains in most areas were significantly below those reported in the initial peer
group and at all colleges nationwide , they are generally similar to those
reported in the revised peer group:
GVSU students reported greater gains than peers in the following areas:
o Analyzing quantitative problems (Freshmen)
GVSU students reported lower gains than peers in the following areas:
o Speaking clearly and effectively
o Working effectively with others (Seniors)
o Learning effectively on your own (Seniors)
o Understanding yourself (Seniors)
o Understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds
o Solving complex real-world problems (Seniors)
o Developing a personal code of values and ethics (Seniors)
o Developing a deepened sense of spirituality (Seniors)
GVSU students reported similar gains to peers in the following areas:
o Acquiring a broad general education
o Acquiring job or work-related knowledge or skills
o Writing clearly and effectively
o Thinking critically and analytically
o Analyzing quantitative problems (Seniors)
o Using computing and information technology
o Working effectively with others (Freshmen)
o Voting in national, state or local elections
o Learning effectively on your own (Freshmen)
o Understanding yourself (Freshmen)
o Solving complex real-world problems (Freshmen)
o Developing a personal code of values and ethics (Freshmen)
o Developing a deepened sense of spirituality (Freshmen)
· Overall, GVSU’s self-reported gains are a little on the low side, even relative to the revised peer group, but fewer of the differences are statistically significant, and those that are significant are smaller in magnitude.