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National Survey of Student Engagement
Institutional Benchmark Report
2001
Institutional Research and Evaluation
April 2002

Highlights from the NSSE 2001
Institutional Benchmark Report

Last spring, VCU participated in the initial nation-wide administration of the National Survey of
Student Engagement (NSSE), which focused on contributions that colleges and universities are
making to student learning. The NSSE project is a major national initiative to collect information
directly from students about the quality of their education, including how often they do the things
that matter most to their learning – such as studying, reading and writing, interacting with faculty
members, and collaborating with peers on class projects. The Carnegie Foundation for the
Advancement of Teaching and The Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning are co-sponsors and the
Pew Charitable Trusts is supporting the project.

Five areas of effective educational practice were examined on the NSSE. Highlights appear below,
and Appendix A contains methodology information about the administration of the survey at VCU.

Level of Academic Challenge
VCU’s first-year student benchmark score of 47.6 for Academic Challenge was below the
benchmark scores of 51.1 for urban schools and 51.4 for doctoral-extensive schools.
VCU’s senior student benchmark score of 55.0 was slightly above the benchmark scores for
both urban (54.0) and doctoral-extensive (54.6) schools.

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National Survey of Student Engagement Institutional Benchmark Report 2001
Institutional Research and Evaluation April 2002
Highlights from the NSSE 2001 Institutional Benchmark Report Last spring, VCU participated in the initial nation-wide administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which focused on contributions that colleges and universities are making to student learning. The NSSE project is a major national initiative to collect information directly from students about the quality of their education, including how often they do the things that matter most to their learning – such as studying, reading and writing, interacting with faculty members, and collaborating with peers on class projects. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and The Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning are co-sponsors and the Pew Charitable Trusts is supporting the project. Five areas of effective educational practice were examined on the NSSE. Highlights appear below, and Appendix A contains methodology information about the administration of the survey at VCU. Level of Academic Challenge ¾VCU’s first-year student benchmark score of 47.6 for Academic Challenge was below the benchmark scores of 51.1 for urban schools and 51.4 for doctoral-extensive schools. ¾VCU’s senior student benchmark score of 55.0 was slightly above the benchmark scores for both urban (54.0) and doctoral-extensive (54.6) schools. Active and Collaborative Learning ¾VCU first-year student ratings for active and collaborative learning (35.4) were much lower than those from VCU seniors (44.2). This parallels the pattern of lower benchmark scores for urban and doctoral-extensive universities. ¾For both first-year students and seniors, the VCU benchmark scores were slightly lower than those for urban and doctoral-extensive schools. Student Interactions with Faculty Members ¾The VCU benchmark score of 30.5 for first-year student engagement was slightly lower compared to the benchmark score of 31.5 for urban schools and 31.6 for doctoral-extensive schools. ¾The VCU senior student benchmark score was 35.7, which was slightly above the benchmark score for urban schools (34.4) and below the benchmark score for doctoral-extensive schools (38.4). Enriching Educational Experiences ¾The VCU first-year student benchmark score of 56.9 was higher than the benchmark score of 53.9 for freshmen at urban schools and 55.3 for freshmen at doctoral-extensive schools. ¾The VCU senior student benchmark score of 46.1 was higher than the benchmark score of 42.6 for seniors at urban schools and 45.9 for seniors at doctoral-extensive schools. Supportive Campus Environment ¾The VCU benchmark score for first-year students (52.5) was lower than the urban schools (54.2) and the doctoral-extensive schools (56.1). ¾The VCU senior benchmark score of 49.2 was lower in comparison to the 49.8 and 51.2 benchmark scores for urban and doctoral-extensive schools, respectively.
Institutional Research and Evaluation April 2002
Master's I & II Level of Academic Challenge Active and Collaborative Learning
90%
100%
90%
100%
Student Interactions With Faculty
45.7 35.5 31.0 44.1 48.2
0%
0%
10%
0%
20%
0%
30%
40%
Enriching Educational Experiences Supportive Campus Environment
42.2 30.5 23.0 38.3 46.0
Bac-General Colleges Level of Academic Challenge Active and Collaborative Learning
50.5 39.1 32.9 51.0 58.5
48.6 36.3 30.7 46.5 55.7
46.7 34.8 28.4 45.1 53.6
50%
70%
60%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50.0 37.9 31.8 49.4 57.2
20%
40%
30%
90%
90%
100%
10%
0%
100%
0%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
48.5 39.7 24.8 34.3 41.7
0%
70%
80%
50%
60%
50%
70%
80%
60%
56.1 43.1 38.1 61.8 63.3
51.0 41.1 35.2 34.3 51.3
0%
80%
52.4 41.1 34.7 51.0 61.5
Bac-Liberal Arts Level of Academic Challenge Active and Collaborative Learning
Enriching Educational Experiences
Student Interactions With Faculty
Supportive Campus Environment
60%
70%
51.1 40.5 33.8 52.8 59.7
54.5 44.1 38.4 58.5 63.6
50%
52.0 41.5 35.1 54.6 61.0
51.8 45.8 35.4 37.9 53.1
54.8 48.3 41.5 43.8 56.8
53.8 47.4 38.7 40.8 55.0
56.1 50.1 43.2 45.6 58.4
page 5
40%
20%
10%
30%
55.8 46.4 40.4 46.1 56.4
56.8 49.0 45.4 49.8 57.5
59.6 50.8 50.1 53.9 60.0
58.8 50.2 48.7 51.5 58.6
48.6 40.5 30.3 33.8 47.0
50%
60%
80%
70%
52.9 39.9 35.1 56.4 58.3
54.1 41.1 35.6 57.6 60.0
55.4 42.3 36.5 60.2 60.9
49.8 36.7 30.5 53.9 54.8
51.8 38.1 32.2 56.8 57.1
60%
50%
40%
53.0 38.9 33.6 58.7 58.2
50.6 37.4 31.5 55.5 56.3
48.5 35.6 28.7 50.8 52.6
54.6 39.8 34.2 59.6 59.0
80%
70%
10%
0%
80%
20%
30%
47.2 34.2 27.3 48.4 51.5
49.6 36.0 29.4 52.8 53.7
44.5 31.3 23.4 43.5 44.5
53.2 43.0 36.3 56.3 62.5
80%
40%
10%
20%
30%
51.0 37.3 33.2 52.1 55.9
48.6 35.5 28.3 48.7 52.4
49.9 36.4 30.5 50.8 53.9
47.5 34.6 26.8 41.9 50.8
44.6 31.7 25.1 39.6 46.8
51.7 39.1 34.0 53.9 57.5
Res/Doc-Intensive Level of Academic Challenge Active and Collaborative Learning
Student Interactions With Faculty
Supportive Campus Environment
54.4 45.0 38.8 57.8 65.1
52.7 42.0 35.9 53.7 62.5
58.3 44.6 41.0 67.0 64.8
57.6 43.8 39.6 64.6 64.1
55.4 47.3 40.3 58.5 67.1
53.4 42.9 37.0 56.6 63.9
61.2 47.5 43.8 69.6 68.2
59.5 46.3 42.2 68.5 66.6
80%
Enriching Educational Experiences
50%
70%
60%
Res/Doc-Extensive Level of Academic Challenge Active and Collaborative Learning
100%
90%
59.7 55.4 48.9 53.3 62.9
65.5 63.0 58.5 64.2 72.3
40%
20%
30%
10%
55.2 42.1 37.1 60.0 61.8
52.6 40.3 35.3 57.5 60.7
51.0 38.4 32.8 54.6 59.0
51.3 39.5 32.8 49.0 59.4
50.5 37.3 32.1 45.9 58.7
48.7 36.0 30.9 43.4 57.0
53.9 46.5 37.9 42.2 52.1
56.2 50.8 42.9 46.5 58.3
57.0 52.0 44.8 48.1 60.0
60%
50%
55.6 49.8 41.3 44.8 56.9
70%
80%
58.4 53.7 46.4 50.3 61.5
60.0 54.7 48.8 52.9 64.2
61.6 57.4 51.1 53.9 68.6
63.9 55.4 55.6 62.3 65.7
70.5 65.0 58.5 57.4 70.8
65.1 57.4 57.9 66.2 66.9
70.8 67.7 64.9 77.6 72.0
100%
90%
20%
30%
40%
54.6 49.0 40.5 43.4 55.4
52.2 46.1 34.7 39.3 49.8
53.1 47.0 37.6 40.6 52.5
53.8 48.2 39.2 41.9 54.2
62.4 53.4 47.1 66.4 76.8
90% 100%
58.3 49.9 43.5 61.2 70.8
65.8 53.0 57.0 79.1 74.3
63.0 48.9 46.1 74.0 70.8
53.0 45.4 36.9 41.5 51.4
52.5 44.1 35.1 40.5 49.3
51.6 42.1 33.7 37.7 47.4
20%
30%
40%
10%
10%
53.6 45.2 37.2 44.8 50.2
61.6 52.4 52.6 58.0 63.8
60.7 51.7 50.9 55.8 61.8
63.0 53.9 54.5 61.0 64.8
61.6 54.3 47.1 70.9 75.1
56.8 46.3 40.2 61.8 66.4
52.2 42.3 34.7 40.1 45.8
53.2 44.5 36.4 43.6 49.3
52.7 43.7 36.0 42.5 47.7
56.8 51.1 44.6 47.6 59.8
57.7 51.7 45.6 49.2 61.2
59.0 52.7 46.6 51.6 62.8
60%
50%
70%
54.5 45.7 37.9 45.3 51.5
56.4 48.1 42.3 49.7 53.8
55.5 47.1 39.6 48.1 53.0
54.9 46.5 38.9 46.8 52.2
62.0 57.2 50.2 61.8 63.6
90% 100%
100%
90%
58.3 51.7 46.5 54.0 58.4
57.1 51.0 44.7 50.7 56.5
70%
80%
60%
50%
55.1 46.8 38.5 43.4 53.0
55.8 48.1 40.0 45.2 53.8
56.4 49.6 41.8 46.9 55.3
62.1 44.9 44.2 70.6 70.8
49.4 39.3 30.8 35.7 41.0
56.8 41.3 36.6 62.2 59.7
44.0 27.6 27.2 41.1 53.6
Enriching Educational Experiences
Supportive Campus Environment
Student Interactions With Faculty
Enriching Educational Experiences
Student Interactions With Faculty
Supportive Campus Environment
90%
60.1 48.4 43.5 69.1 67.3
57.8 46.4 39.3 64.9 62.3
49.6 38.8 28.4 34.1 41.0
100%
60.0 53.8 45.6 57.6 65.7
58.0 48.8 43.6 52.3 56.3
NSSE National Benchmark Deciles Virginia Commonwealth University  These tables present the range of institutional scores by decile for the five benchmarks of effective educational practice for both first-year and senior students. Deciles are percentile scores that divide the frequency of benchmark scores into ten equal groups. Deciles are listed for both the NSSE national results and for each of the Carnegie Classifications. A percentile is the point in a distribution at or below which a given percentage of institutional benchmark scores fall. For example, the 60th percentile represents the point at or below which 60 percent of the institutional benchmark scores fall for the respective comparison group. To help you gauge your institution's performance relative to the comparison groups, the shaded areas on the national and Carnegie classification tables indicate the deciles that are less than or equal to your benchmark score. For example, if your benchmark score on Level of Academic Challenge for first-year students is 55.6, then your institution falls within the 70th and 80th percentile range on the national table, and between the 80th and 90th ercentiles on the Research/Doctoral-Extensive table. First-Year Senior National0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Level of Academic Challenge 42.2 47.6 49.3 50.3 51.2 52.2 53.3 54.7 56.7 59.1 65.8 48.5 52.3 53.2 54.2 55.1 56.0 56.9 58.1 59.6 61.9 70.8 Active and Collaborative Learning 27.6 35.3 36.5 37.9 39.3 40.7 41.8 43.2 45.0 47.4 56.0 38.2 44.4 46.2 47.2 48.2 49.5 50.7 51.7 53.3 55.4 67.7 Student Interactions With Faculty 23.0 28.6 30.7 32.0 33.3 34.4 35.9 37.4 39.4 42.2 57.0 24.8 35.1 37.2 38.7 40.3 42.0 43.9 45.9 49.0 52.0 64.9 Enriching Educational Experiences 38.3 45.4 48.7 51.0 53.3 55.3 57.2 59.0 61.8 65.9 79.1 33.8 39.6 41.4 43.3 44.8 46.5 48.2 50.8 53.2 56.9 77.6 Supportive Campus Environment 44.5 53.4 55.4 57.2 58.7 59.8 61.6 63.0 64.7 67.4 76.8 41.0 49.1 51.6 53.3 55.1 56.8 58.3 60.2 62.0 64.8 75.8
NSSE 2001 Institutional Benchmark Report Virginia Commonwealth University
 The NSSE survey,The College Student Report,measures student engagement in many important activities that research studies show are positively related to learning and personal development. Forty-one questions from the survey are assigned to five clusters of similar activities and conditions to make up the national benchmarks of effective educational practice. The benchmarks are created on 100-point scales to make it easier to compare performance within and across sectors and institutional types.
 These benchmarks are: (1) level of academic challenge, (2) active and collaborative learning, (3) student interactions with faculty members, (4) enriching educational experiences, and (5) supportive campus environment. The NSSE benchmark analysis is based on more than 105,000 randomly selected students at 467 four-year colleges and universities that participated in the spring of 2000 or 2001. The students represent a broad cross-section of first-year and senior students from every region of the country. The institutions are similar in most respects to the universe of four-year schools. More detailed information about the benchmarks can be found in the national report that was sent with this mailing and on the NSSE website at www.iub.edu/~nsse.
 This report summarizes your institution’s performance in these five areas of effective educational practice. Your institution’s benchmark scores are presented and compared to schools in your consortium, your Carnegie Classification, and the NSSE national norms. Page 4 provides some additional information, including a standard score that represents the magnitude of the difference between your institution's score and the respective comparison group, and page 5 presents a table of National and Carnegie classification deciles against which you can gauge the relative performance of your institution on each of the benchmarks.
Level of Academic Challenge
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
First-Year Senior
First-Year
Institution Virginia Commonwealth 47.6 55.0
Senior
Benchmark Scores Consortium Carnegie Classification Urban Doc/Res-Universities Extensive 51.1 51.4 54.0 54.6
Virginia Commonwealth Urban Universities Doc/Res-Extensive National
All NSSE Institutions
National
52.9 56.6
Level of Academic Challenge Items:
Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, rehearsing, and other activities related to your academic program)
umber of assigned textbooks, books, or book-length packs of course readings
umber of written papers or reports of 20 pages or more
umber of written papers or reports of between 5 and 19 pages
umber of written papers or reports of fewer than 5 ages
Coursework emphasizes: Analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory
Coursework emphasizes: Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships
Coursework emphasizes: Making judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods
Coursework emphasizes: Applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations
Worked harder than you thought you could to meet an instructor's standards or expectations
Campus environment emphasizes spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic wor
Student Interactions with Faculty Members Items:
Asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions
Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with others outside of class (students, family members, co-workers, etc.)
Active and Collaborative Learning
20
40
30
Virginia Commonwealth Urban Universities Doc/Res-Extensive National
Benchmark Scores
Consortium Urban Universities 37.3 44.6
Discussed grades or assignments with an instructor
First-Year
Institution Virginia Commonwealth 30.5 35.7
page 2
Made a class presentation
Virginia Commonwealth Urban Universities Doc/Res-Extensive National
Worked or planned to work with a faculty member on a research project outside of course or program requirements
First-Year Senior
Consortium Urban Universities 31.5 34.4
Carnegie Classification Doc/Res-Extensive 31.6 38.4
Senior
Benchmark Scores
All NSSE Institutions
35.1 42.9
Institution Virginia Commonwealth 35.4 44.2
Senior
First-Year
Carnegie Classification Doc/Res-Extensive 37.5 45.8
National
50
70
60
70
80
60
50
40
80
20
30
First-Year Senior
Tutored or taught other students
Worked with faculty members on activities other than coursework (committees, orientation, student-life activities, etc.)
Worked with other students on projects during class
Participated in a community-based project as part of a regular course
Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments
Active and Collaborative Learning Items:
Student Interactions with Faculty Members
40.9 49.7
National
Discussed ideas from your readings or classes wit faculty members outside of class
Talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor
Received prompt feedback from faculty on your academic performance (written or oral)
All NSSE Institutions
Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, publications, student government, sports, etc.)
Independent study or self-designed major
All NSSE Institutions
Senior
60.2 56.8
Campus environment provides the support you need to thrive socially
70
80
50
60
Had serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity
page 3
Campus environment provides the support you need to help you succeed academically
Virginia Commonwealth Urban Universities Doc/Res-Extensive National
Benchmark Scores
Enriching Educational Experiences
Carnegie Classification Doc/Res-Extensive 55.3 45.9
First-Year
National
Consortium Urban Universities 53.9 42.6
First-Year Senior
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
Senior
Benchmark Scores
Carnegie Classification Doc/Res-Extensive 56.1 51.2
National
40
30
20
Quality of relationships with faculty members
First-Year Senior
Consortium Urban Universities 54.2 49.8
Quality of relationships with administrative personnel and offices
Supportive Campus Environment
Quality of relationships with other students
55.4 47.6
Institution Virginia Commonwealth 56.9 46.1
Campus environment helps you cope with your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)
Had serious conversations with students that have different religious beliefs, political opinions, or personal values
Virginia Commonwealth Urban Universities Doc/Res-Extensive National
Enriching Educational Experiences Items:
All NSSE Institutions
Used electronic technology (list-serve, chat group, internet, etc.) to discuss or complete an assignment
Practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment
Culminating senior experience (comprehensive exam, capstone course, thesis, project, etc.)
First-Year
Institution Virginia Commonwealth 52.5 49.2
Supportive Campus Environment Items:
Campus environment encourages contact among students from different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds
Community service or volunteer work
Foreign language coursework & study abroad
Benchmark
Level of Academic Challenge
Active and Collaborative Learning
Student Interactions With Faculty Members
Enriching Educational Experiences
Supportive Campus Environment
Benchmark
Level of Academic Challenge
Active and Collaborative Learning
Student Interactions With Faculty Members
Enriching Educational Experiences
Supportive Campus Environment
NSSE 2000-2001 National Benchmark Summary Statistics Vir inia Commonwealth Universit Explanation of Statistics First-Year Benchmark Score: The institutional Comparison Group Statistics benchmark score is the weighted Virginia arithmetic average (mean) of the Commonwealth Urban Doc/Res-corresponding survey items, calculated by Benchmark Score Universities Extensive National dividing the sum of values for each item b Benchmark Score52.951.1 51.4 the total number of students responding to Score Difference-5.3-3.5 -3.8 that item. Each benchmark was put on a 47.6 Standard Deviation1 3.5Comparison group100-point scale. 3. 4.5 benchmark scores are the average of all a -1.1 -1.1 -1.2 Standard Score institutional benchmark scores within the Benchmark Score37.3 37.5 40.9 group. Score Difference-1.9 -2.1 -5.5 35.4 Score Difference:The result of Standard Deviation4.73.1 2.7 asubtracting the comparison group score Standard Score -0.6 -0.8 -1.2 (consortium, Carnegie Classification, or Benchmark Score35.131.5 31.6 national) from your institution’s score on Score Difference-4.6-1.0 -1.1 each benchmark. 30.5 Standard Deviation5.32.7 3.7 Standard Deviation: The average amount a Standard Score -0.4 -0.3 -0.9 each institution's benchmark score deviates Benchmark Score55.453.9 55.3 from the mean of all benchmark scores in the comparison group. The greater the Score Difference3.0 1.6 1.5 56.9 dispersion of scores the larger the standard Standard Deviation4.6 5.2 7.8 deviation. a Standard Score 0.7 0.3 0.2 Standard Score (SS): In statistical terms, Benchmark Score60.254.2 56.1 this is a z score - the standardized Score Difference-7.7-1.7 -3.6 52.5magnitude of the difference between your Standard Deviation3.2 3.9 5.6 school's benchmark score and the mean of a Standard Score -0.5 -0.9 -1.4 the comparison group. It is calculated by Number of Institutions46511 73 dividing the score difference by the standard deviation of the comparison group. Senior  Assuming the group means are Comparison Group Statistics normally distributedb, a SS of 0.5 refers to Virginia a benchmark score that is greater than 69% Commonwealth Urban Doc/Res-of all comparison group schools, and 1.0 is Benchmark Score Universities Extensive National greater than 84%. Likewise, a negative SS Benchmark Score56.654.0 54.6 of -0.5 corresponds to a score that is better Score Difference-1.61.0 0.4 than 31% of the comparision group, and a -55.0 1.6 2.3 3.81.0 corresponds to an institution that is Standard Deviation a Standard Score 0.6 0.2 -0.4better than only 16% of the comparison group. A SS of zero indicates that the Benchmark Score44.6 45.8 49.7 institution and comparison group Score Difference-0.4 -1.6 -5.5 44.2 benchmark scores are equal, and that the Standard Deviation3.0 2.7 4.5 ainstitution's score is higher than roughly Standard Score -0.1 -0.6 -1.2 50% of the other schools in the group. Benchmark Score42.934.4 38.4  Also note the sign of the SS. A positive Score Difference-7.21.3 -2.7 sign means that your institution’s score 35.7 Standard Deviation2.8 3.3 6.8 was greater than the comparison group a e Standard Scor-1.10.5 -0.8 average, thus showing an affirmative result for the institution. A negative sign Benchmark Score42.6 45.9 47.6 indicates the institution lags behind, Score Difference3.5 0.2 -1.5 46.1 suggesting that the student behavior or Standard Deviation3.1 4.5 7.1 ainstitutional practice represented by the 1.1 0.0 -0.2 Standard Score benchmark may warrant attention. Benchmark Score56.849.8 51.2 a Score Difference-7.6-0.6 -2.0 Caution:The benchmark score 49.2 distributions are within the normal range Standard Deviation6.12.2 4.2 for the National and Carnegie a -0.3 -0.5 -1.2 Standard Score classification groups; however consortium-Number of Institutions46711 73
page 4
Appendix A Methodology The 2000 NSSE information is from more than 63,000 randomly selected participants from 276 four-year colleges and universities, and the 2001 information is from 71,000 randomly selected participants from 321 institutions. These samples represent a broad cross-section of first-year and senior students from every region of the country. The results from VCU are compared to responses from students at urban universities, universities that share VCU’s Carnegie Classification, and to the NSSE national norms. The Institutional Benchmark Report is based on data from the NSSE 2000 and 2001 national samples, and therefore includes more than 155,000 first-year and senior students who were randomly selected from electronic data files provided by 470 different participating four-year colleges and universities. An equal number of first-year and senior students were sent the survey. For VCU in particular, 1,000 surveys were sent and 309 responses were received, resulting in an overall survey response rate of approximately 31 percent.
Institutional Research and Evaluation April 2002