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SOCIALLY ENGAGED COLLEGIANS

Winthrop University students and faculty march in front of Tillman Hall along Oakland Avenue in the Open Ally March in October. The event was held to help raise awareness of the gay, lesbian and transgender community on campus.
Winthrop University students and faculty march in front of Tillman Hall along Oakland Avenue in the Open Ally March in October. The event was held to help raise awareness of the gay, lesbian and transgender community on campus.

Students at Winthrop University are more engaged than their peers at similar institutions, according to a recently released survey.

Rather than looking at a school's reputation or the grades of its incoming students, the National Survey of Student Engagement looks at how involved students are in their academic and campus lives.

The survey is broken down into five categories of student involvement: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interactions, enriching educational experiences and a supportive campus environment.

Questions include how often students participate in class, how often they interact with people of different economic, social and racial backgrounds and how much they participate in community-based projects.

"The more students are engaged on campus, especially outside the classroom, the more likely they are to persist and accomplish their ultimate goal, and that is a degree," said Daniel Weinstein, executive director of institutional effectiveness at Winthrop.

Planning tool

Weinstein said the survey is used as a planning tool to determine how the university can improve. Positive results such as this year's also can be used to attract prospective students.

Changes that have been made, in part because of past NSSE results, include increasing the number of freshman experiences and requiring freshmen and sophomores to live on campus.

Senior Crystal Gaulden, who participated in the survey, said Winthrop does a good job of getting students involved in clubs and organizations on campus.

"It's challenging to manage your projects as well as your extracurricular activities, and I think it's an important part of your career at a university to engage in an organization," she said.

"It gives you a good perspective, and it gives you good ideas for your projects that you're working on, whether it be something for the university or a class or something that you've always wanted to do yourself."

The annual survey was given to 316,000 freshmen and seniors at 610 four-year colleges and universities. More than 600 students from Winthrop took part.

To learn more about how Winthrop measured up, visit www.winthrop.edu/effectiveness/nsse.

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