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November 15, 2007


Survey Says CSU Dominguez Hills
Offers Engaging Environment for Students
Results shared with USA Today in recently published focus on NSSE

(Carson, CA) Results from a survey of first-year students and seniors at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) indicate that the university is providing students with a supportive campus environment that is also as academically challenging and engaging as similar universities nationwide.

For the past six years, CSUDH has been participating in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), an assessment that focuses on how effectively universities engage their students in academic endeavors by going to the source: students. The 85-question survey asks a randomly selected sampling of first-year students and seniors how actively involved they are with their studies, professors, and the campus community, all of which have proven effective in bolstering student learning.

Until now, universities have not made data from NSSE (pronounced “nessie”) public. However, this year, Cal State Dominguez Hills — along with more than 250 other universities nationwide — agreed to share its results with USA Today. On Nov. 5, the national newspaper published those results along with a series of articles. One article, “What Schools Across the USA are Doing to Engage Students,” featured the Dominguez Hills Toro First Year program as an example of what universities are doing to support first-generation students. The article is available online at www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-11-04-nsse-good-things_N.htm.

CSU Dominguez Hills’ participation in the NSSE/USA Today partnership comes in advance of an accountability initiative announced this week by the California State University. As part of a national project called the Voluntary System of Accountability, CSU has committed to launching the College Portrait, a report that each of the CSU’s 23 campuses will provide on their web sites by 2009. College Portrait will include charts, graphs and statistics related to student learning and engagement, as well as enrollment and graduation. NSSE results will be among that data. The press release from the CSU is available online at www.calstate.edu/PA/news/2007/voluntary_system.shtml

The questions posed in NSSE cover five bench¬marks: Level of Academic Challenge, Active and Collaborative Learning, Student-Faculty Interaction, Enriching Educational Experiences, and Supportive Campus Environment, with the results of each benchmark expressed on a 100-point scale. An individual university’s results prepared by NSSE also include a side-by-side comparison with similar universities. More than 600 universities throughout the United States and Canada participate in the survey, representing all types of public and private higher education insitutions.

As part of its series, USA Today created an online database of each participating university’s results and comparisons in the five benchmarks (www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-11-04-nsse-how-to_N.htm). Dominguez Hills faired well among its peer universities. For example, compared to students from peer institutions, a larger majority of those CSUDH first-year students and seniors surveyed answered positively to questions related to the Supportive Campus Environment benchmark. More specifically, 46% of Cal State Dominguez Hills first-year students (compared to 30% from the peer group) said the institution substantially helped students cope with non-academic matters.

Other examples include 64% of first-time students compared to 55% from peer universities responded affirmatively when asked if the university encourages contact among diverse peers, an Enriching Educational Experiences benchmark question; and 74% of seniors at CSUDH (compared to 56% from peer universities) said they made classroom presentations, a mark of the Active and Collaborative Learning benchmark.

Universities often use the information gleaned from NSSE to implement initiatives aimed to address those benchmark areas. Cal State Dominguez Hills’ NSSE results were the impetus for a number of programs in recent years, including Associated Student Inc.’s Adopt-A-Freshman mentoring program, the expansion of the Toro First Year program mentioned in the article, and the University 101 orientation course for first-time students, which will become mandatory next year in part due to NSSE.

“It’s rewarding to see that the NSSE results show that our efforts to provide an engaging and supportive campus environment are recognized and appreciated by our students,” said Acting Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sam Wiley. “We are particularly pleased that initial offerings of University 101, a course designed to orient freshmen to university life and academic expectations, are showing promising results in increasing the successful continuation of our students from the freshman to the sophomore year.”

For more information on NSSE, visit www.nsse.iub.edu/index.cfm.

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About CSU Dominguez Hills -- California State University, Dominguez Hills is a highly diverse, urban university located in the South Bay, primarily serving the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The university prides itself on its outstanding faculty and friendly, student-centered environment. Known for excellence in teacher education, nursing, psychology, business administration, and digital media arts, new degree programs include computer science, criminal justice, recreation and leisure studies, social work, and communication disorders. On campus is the Home Depot Center, a multi-purpose sports complex that hosts world-class soccer, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, and cycling.




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