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Contact: Lynn Stewart or Kelsey Johnson, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120 or 318-841-7266

Students Rate Centenary College High for 'Active, Collaborative Learning' and 'Student-Faculty Interaction' on National Survey of Student Engagement

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary students, participating for the first time this past year, give favorable ratings to the college in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), whose results were released yesterday (Monday, Nov. 7).

Additionally, statistics show the college meets or exceeds most student-engagement benchmarks for first-year students and seniors when compared with selected peer institutions, other schools within Centenary's Carnegie classification and the 2005 NSSE norms. Students ranked Centenary especially high in "Active and Collaborative Learning," "Student-Faculty Interaction" and "Supportive Campus Environment."

"National data has shown that a key ingredient of students' success is their level of engagement," said Associate Dean David J. Hoaas, NSSE program coordinator at Centenary. "Centenary has for a long time focused on exploring, inventing and connecting. This gives us some reasurance that students value our attempts to undertake these projects."

Centenary — and each of the 528 four-year colleges and universities participating — received statistical comparison scores on benchmarks of effective educational practices against the average scores for students attending similar institutions and against all the 237,000 students surveyed.

First-year students and seniors answered questions in five benchmark areas: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment. Selected peer institutions for Centenary were Centre College in Danville, Ky.; Furman University in Greenville, S.C.; Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.; Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas; the University of the South in Sewanne, Tenn.; and Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.

"We were particularly pleased that a higher percentage of Centenary students than any of the other comparison groups gave the college high marks for 'Active and Collaborative Learning,' " Hoaas said. That part of the national survey queried students about asking questions in class, making class presentations, working with other students on projects during class and outside of class, tutoring other students, participating in a community-based project as a part of a regular course and discussing ideas from readings or classes with others outside of class.

"Students learn more when they're in a total learning environment and in a variety of settings--both in and outside of class," Hoaas said. Regarding that benchmark, NSSE said: "Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares students for the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily during and after college."

In the "Active and Collaborative Learning" category, the mean score for Centenary seniors was 60.8, compared to 53.7 for selected peers, 52.2 for master's institutions and 51.5 for all NSSE 2005 respondents. For first-year students, the mean figure was 48.6 while 43.7 for peers, 42.5 for master's and 42.4 for NSSE.

All Centenary students surveyed also showed higher benchmark mean comparison scores in the "Student-Faculty Interaction" area. For seniors, the figures were 62.1 for Centenary, 56.3 for selected peer institutions, 43.6 for master's and 44.1 for all surveyed. First-year students at Centenary showed a mean score of 39.6 compared to 39.2 for peers, 33.9 for master's and 34.0 for all.

That category measured interaction with faculty members inside and outside of class and the resulting interactions as teachers become role models, mentors and guides for continuous, life-long learning.

First-year and senior students had high marks for Centenary's "Supportive Campus Environment," which measures activities that show that students perform better and are more satisfied at colleges that are committed to their success and that cultivate positive working and social relationships among different groups on campus. The report showed for Centenary first-year students a 67.3 mean, compared to 67.6 for selected peers, 60.1 for master's and 60.1 NSSE 2005. For seniors the figures were 64.8, 63.7, 58.0 and 57.5, respectively.

Hoaas said that the college will be repeating the survey again. "Best practice says that we continually assess our programs. We will be doing this again next year and will be able to draw some interesting comparisons from year to year."

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