Strategy Nine

Improve Key NSSE Academic Scores

In 2002 Henderson began participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) with a cohort of COPLAC schools. Those first results indicated that we differed significantly from COPLAC schools in several key academic areas. The latest NSSE results (2010) still indicate statistically significant differences in those same key academic areas. Improving performance on these key indicators will bring Henderson in line with COPLAC institutions and offer students a better liberal arts education.

Action and Elements

  1. Reconstitute the Writing across the Curriculum committee to examine the results of their efforts and make continuing recommendations.
  2. Publicize to the faculty the following key indicators from the NSSE:
    • MENTAL ACTIVITIES: In their current year of study
      Both first year and senior students did this significantly more than the COPLAC cohort: Memorizing facts, ideas, or methods from your courses and readings so you can repeat them in pretty much the same form.<
      Both first year and senior students did this less (and seniors significantly less) than the COPLAC cohort: Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships.
    • READING AND WRITING: In their current year of study
      Both first year and senior students were assigned fewer (and seniors significantly fewer) textbooks, books, or book-length packs of course readings than the COPLAC cohort.
      Both first year and senior students wrote fewer (and seniors significantly fewer) 1-5 page papers or reports than the COPLAC cohort.
      Both first year and senior students wrote significantly fewer 5-19 page papers or reports than the COPLAC cohort.
  3. Faculty in each academic department (or school) will meet to consider how to address the differences.
    • The faculty of each department will assess the amount of reading and writing assigned in their courses, identify where adjustments could and should be made, and identify impediments to implementing changes to bring Henderson in line with other COPLAC schools on reading and writing.
    • The faculty of each department will discuss the mental activities required of their students and identify where less memorization might be appropriate and where more synthesizing could be introduced. They should also identify impediments to implementing changes that would bring Henderson in line with other COPLAC schools on reading and writing.
  4. Academic deans will compile these reports and identify ways to address the impediments to requiring more reading, writing, and higher thinking skills in academic coursework.
  5. These NSSE indicators will be revisited regularly to determine if the changes made to courses and curriculum have brought Henderson’s scores in line with other COPLAC institutions.