Survey Results Show University Meeting Best Practices In Student Engagement

WEST PLAINS – Results of a recent survey analyzing student engagement shows Missouri State University-West Plains is meeting or exceeding best practices found and utilized by colleges and universities across the nation.

The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), a product and service of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas-Austin, is a well-established tool that provides member institutions information about effective educational practices in community colleges and assists institutions in using that information to promote improvements in student learning and persistence.

CCSSE’s goal is to provide member colleges with results that can be used to inform decision making and target institutional improvements, center officials said in a news release.   Student engagement, or the amount of time and energy students invest in meaningful educational practices, is the underlying foundation of CCSSE’s work.   The survey instrument is designed to capture student engagement as a measure of institutional quality, they added.

To obtain the results, CCSSE utilized a three-year cohort of participating colleges for all of its data analyses, including the computation of benchmark scores.   The cohort that included Missouri State-West Plains students used data from 2011-2013, referred to as the 2013 CCSSE Cohort.   This cohort includes 718 institutions from 48 states and the District of Columbia, three Canadian provinces, plus Bermuda, Micronesia and the Northern Marianas.

According to the survey’s results, Missouri State-West Plains scored above the 2013 CCSSE cohort in all five benchmarks of educational practice.   The benchmarks are groups of conceptually related survey items that address key areas of student engagement and have been shown, through educational research, to be important to students’ college experiences and educational outcomes.   Those five benchmarks are active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student/faculty interaction and support for learners.

The university scored highest in the areas of student effort and support for learners at 57.1 and 57.2, respectively, well above the scores of 50.0 in both categories for the 2013 CCSSE cohort and near the scores of 57.8 and 59.7 for the 2013 Top Performing Colleges, those that scored in the top 10 percent of the cohort by benchmark.

Missouri State-West Plains’ scores in the other categories were 52.3 in academic challenge, 51.2 in student/faculty interaction and 50.5 in active and collaborative learning.   The 2013 CCSSE Cohort’s scores were 50.0 in all categories.   Scores for the 2013 Top Performing Colleges were 57.3, 58.3 and 60, respectively.

“These scores are indicators that what we do here in our person-centered educational environment is noticed by the students,” said Interim Dean of Academic Affairs Dennis Lancaster.   “It also tells us that these ‘best practices’ noted by CCSSE and other researchers in higher education are being incorporated in and out of the classroom.”

“Research shows the more actively engaged students are with college faculty and staff, with other students and with the subject matter, the more likely they are to learn and to achieve their academic goals,” CCSSE officials said in their release.   “The benchmarks focus on institutional practices and student behaviors that promote student engagement and that correlate highly with student learning and persistence.”

The CCSSE results for Missouri State-West Plains also provided data indicating if students are benefiting from the university’s best practices, Lancaster said.   “The CCSSE is just a piece we use in our assessment puzzle to reveal how well we are or are not doing in meeting the education needs of our students,” he explained.