ARCHIVED: SLC Students Surpass Peer Benchmarks in National Survey of Student Engagement

In the major national research study of student engagement, Sarah Lawrence College undergraduates significantly outperformed students at both peer colleges and all participating institutions in key measures including papers written, ideas discussed outside of class, number of books read, and pursuit of independent study or a self-designed major.

In data released November 17 by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), based on the responses of 416,000 first year students and seniors attending 673 US colleges and universities, Sarah Lawrence first year students reported notably higher engagement scores compared to comparison groups in the following key measures:

Percentage of students

Sarah Lawrence
1st Years

Peer
1st Years

All NSSE 1st Years

Who wrote at least one paper or report of 20 pages or more

74%

17%

18%

Who wrote more than 4 papers or reports between 5-19 pages

67%

53%

29%

Who discussed ideas from readings or classes with others outside of class

85%

73%

59%

Who discussed ideas from classes with faculty outside of class

60%

28%

21%

Who did a practicum, internship, field experience, clinical assignment

20%

7%

7%

Results from the seniors cohort are equally impressive:

Percentage of students

Sarah Lawrence Seniors

Peer Seniors

All NSSE Seniors

Who worked harder than expected to meet an instructor’s expectations

76%

61%

61%

Who read more than 10 assigned books or book-length packs of readings

80%

60%

32%

Who discussed ideas from classes with faculty outside of class

65%

44%

28%

Who had serious conversation with students of another race or ethnicity

78%

64%

55%

Who did an independent study or self-designed major

63%

37%

17%

These areas in which Sarah Lawrence students excel are consistent with skills and abilities employers are seeking, as identified in a survey of employers conducted by the Association of American Colleges & Universities. They include the ability to write and speak well; to think clearly about complex problems; to analyze a problem to develop workable solutions; to be creative and innovative in solving problems; and to work with people of different backgrounds.

The NSSE 42-question survey attempts to capture vital aspects of the student experience, particularly those which contribute to learning and personal development. Sarah Lawrence performed especially well in survey questions focused in three areas:

  • Level of Academic Challenge
  • Student-Faculty Interaction
  • Enriching Educational Experiences

With this data, SLC President Karen R. Lawrence and College officials can better shape both curricular and co-curricular practices and offerings.

According to President Lawrence, “This most recent NSSE report confirms that Sarah Lawrence provides a truly distinctive and student-centered education. It is one in which students are not only encouraged to follow their passions, but their one-to-one conference engagement with faculty members (in over 90 percent of all classes) also ensures a remarkably mature, virtually graduate school-level grasp of the material while developing the thinking, synthesizing, communications, and entrepreneurial skills necessary to succeed in whatever career they choose, regardless of the environment.”