The findings come from the 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which was sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Indiana University Center for Survey Research.

The NSSE is given annually to first-year students and seniors. This is the fifth year that Southwestern has participated in the study. Forty-five percent of eligible Southwestern students responded to the 2006 survey. Nationwide, about 260,000 students from 523 four-year colleges and universities participated in the survey.

The survey measures five areas that are associated with high levels of learning and development: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment.

Southwestern was in the top 10 percent of schools nationally in the areas of student-faculty interaction and enriching educational experiences. It also ranked above its peer group in the other three areas.

The section on student-faculty interaction asks students questions such as whether they have discussed ideas from their classes with faculty members outside of class, worked with faculty members on research projects outside of class or talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor.

The section on enriching educational experiences asks students whether they have participated in complementary learning opportunities such as co-curricular activities, internships, community service or volunteer work, study abroad or a senior capstone project.

“The survey gives us an idea of how well we are doing from the students’ perspective,” said Provost Jim Hunt.

Colleges and universities can use the NSSE to identify areas where changes are needed in policies, curriculum and allocation of resources.

For example, as a result of student responses to NSSE, Southwestern has implemented additional social and recreational opportunities on weekends, more comprehensive health and wellness services, and living/learning communities. In addition, budgets for social activities with students and faculty have been created, collaborative research opportunities continue to develop, and community-based learning opportunities are expanding.

The NSSE also is one of several new instruments that can help consumers differentiate between schools.

“Prospective students and their parents can use the survey to help them find a college or university that provides enriching educational experiences that meet their goals and objectives,” Hunt said.

To see the results of Southwestern’s 2006 NSSE survey, visit

For more information on the National Survey of Student Engagement, visit

Southwestern University is a selective, nationally recognized undergraduate liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,260 students. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas. For more information on Southwestern, visit