NSSE survey to help improve Rider’s quality

By Will Gallagher
Nessie’s coming to Rider, but not in Centennial Lake. Instead, it’s in students’ email.
Nessie is actually NSSE, the National Survey of Student Engagement, which is administered through Indiana University.
Starting on Feb. 25, freshmen and seniors have the opportunity to participate in the quick and easy survey, which provides Rider faculty with valuable information on how to make the educational environment better for students.

“This asks the students directly what’s going on with their teaching and learning,” said Ron Walker, associate vice president for institutional analysis. “It’s online, which is great. Do it at your leisure, do it when you’re bored. It takes less than 15 minutes.”

NSSE asks students questions relating to their classes and what they do in them, the quality of their advising, both academic and career-related, and the opportunities provided to them by the university, such as jobs, extracurricular activities, support services and social involvement.

It then compares these results to other schools similar in size and scope to Rider, such as Monmouth and Seton Hall. It can even break down the results by discipline — how the business program, for example, stacks up against another college’s.

The questions in the survey provide an insight into the educational environment of Rider. They ask whether classes are more focused around memorization or synthesis of information, Walker said.
NSSE also asks questions about faculty relationships, including what type of mentoring relationships students developed, how often they met with faculty, and how they have been advised over the years, according to Eileen Gurwitz, assistant director of institutional analysis.
Campus environment also plays a part in the survey. NSSE asks students about the emphasis the school places on academics, athletics and other areas. However, the focus is still primarily on education and how it can be improved.

“It’s not about, ‘How’s the food at Dalys?’ or, ‘How’s your dorm room?’” Gurwitz said.
In the past, the survey has provided benefits to the Rider community, specifically the freshman class. Previous surveys revealed that the freshman curriculum was not rigorous enough. After careful analysis of the data, faculty strengthened the course work for freshmen in order to better prep them for higher-level courses, Walker said.

According to Gurwitz, NSSE results are given to new professors in order to show them how the typical Rider student best learns and grows.

The email containing the survey reads, “Rider University wants your feedback!” Although students might be tempted to delete this when it hits their inbox, they should not, administrators and faculty say. It will help both current and future generations of Rider students.

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