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Community Voices, February 2016

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For college students of today, the college experience involves much more than classroom learning. Students are also given the opportunity to learn outside the classroom through meaningful interactions with faculty, collaborations with other diverse groups, study abroad, internships, field experiences, and student teaching. These undergraduate opportunities have a significant impact on the overall student learning experience in addition to their positive effect on retention, graduation and eventually job placement.

For the past fifteen years the Center for Postsecondary Research at the Indiana University School of Education has annually conducted the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) to help study student participation in activities and programs that enhance their learning and personal development.  This survey also gathers information about student experiences and helps identify and measure High Impact Practices that lead to student success.

 The results of SMSU’s recent NSSE survey highlight some positive trends and themes that indicate alignment with our strategic planning efforts and lift up the message of our key themes of “Student Learning and Success” and “Meaningful Partnerships and Engagement.” The results of our categorized responses focus on academics; experiences with faculty; learning with peers; campus environment; and rich educational experiences.

Our specific results help to reinforce the various messages that we are sharing with prospective students and their families and provide insight on what these new students can expect when they choose to join the Mustang Family. I am thrilled to report that over 90% of SMSU seniors rate their entire educational experience as “good” or “excellent.”

Learning communities, service learning, research with faculty, internships, study abroad and culminating senior experiences are six High Impact Practices that are promoted and measured due to their positive association with student outcomes.  95% of SMSU seniors report engagement in one or more of these High Impact Practices during their time at SMSU - a number significantly higher than other institutions in the state.

As I have shared in this column previously, civic engagement opportunities abound at SMSU.  Our students have a multitude of opportunities to be actively involved in our communities, share their time and talents, and extend their learning beyond the classroom.  For example, by the time our students are seniors, nearly 80% report being engaged in some form of service learning during their undergraduate college years.  These opportunities are made possible through meaningful partnerships and engagement that benefit not only student learning, but the broader communities we serve and are a part of.  

We are extremely proud of the students who choose SMSU and become engaged, active learners on our campus.  The educational experiences that we offer extend beyond the classroom walls and in to the community that we are fortunate to call home.  There is no question that SMSU is where you (and we) belong!


Published in the Marshall Independent, Saturday, February 20, 2016

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