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National Student Survey Points to UC’s Success in ‘High Impact’ Learning


UC freshmen and seniors dedicate more study time than the national average and also pursue more learning experiences beyond the classroom than students at peer institutions.

Date: 12/3/2013 4:00:00 PM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover and Lisa Ventre

UC ingot   A new and improved national survey on student engagement at colleges and universities is once again emphasizing why here at home, Bearcats believe an education at the University of Cincinnati is “Cincinnati Smart.”
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Findings from the 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) are emphasizing how a UC education is taking learning beyond the classroom.

The 2013 survey involved 335,000 first-year and senior students attending 568 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities. Approximately 1,478 UC freshmen and 1,974 UC seniors participated in the 2013 survey. Here are some highlights:

Cincinnati Smart: NSSE Reinforces Success in UC’s Real-World Learning

UC holds a long tradition of providing real-world educational experiences, and is the world founder of cooperative education.  The NSSE survey shows strong UC student participation in what the survey calls “high impact” practices – such as service-learning courses or learning communities for UC freshmen, and internships, study abroad and capstone experiences for seniors.

Student engagement in these high-impact practices are aspirations for academic institutions because research has found they can change lives. NSSE also describes high-impact practices as requiring considerable time and effort; that they facilitate learning outside the classroom; that they require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, and encourage collaboration among diverse learners.

Thirty-one percent of UC freshmen reported participating in two or more high-impact learning experiences, compared with 13 percent of freshmen in UC’s peer urban institutions; 13 percent of freshmen in UC’s Carnegie Research Institution comparison; and 13 percent of freshmen in UC’s comparison group of large, four-year public Ohio institutions.

With 73 percent of UC freshmen participating in at least one high-impact learning experience, UC’s  engagement in this area was significantly higher than many peer comparisons (57 percent large urban institutions; 55 percent Carnegie Class; 52 percent large, four-year Ohio public institutions).

Nationally, first-year students who participated in at least one high-impact practice reported greater gains in their knowledge, skills and personal development. National findings also indicated that freshmen who participated in at least one high-impact learning experience were more satisfied with their entire educational experience, and that they were more likely to say that they would choose the same institution if they were to choose a home place of study.

Among seniors, 71 percent of UC’s students reported participating in two or more high-impact learning experiences, compared with 61 percent of UC’s peer group, 62 percent Carnegie Class comparisons and 66 percent of the state’s 4-year public institution comparison group. The most popular UC senior high-impact learning experiences were internships or field experiences (65 percent), service learning (54 percent), and culminating senior experience (57 percent).

“At the University of Cincinnati, our students are provided with many opportunities to learn beyond the classroom, including co-ops and internships,” says Provost Beverly Davenport. “We have found that students who participate in experiential learning opportunities are better prepared to enter the workforce. Data also shows that students who participate in co-ops and internships have higher retention rates than students who do not.”

Buckle Down and Study

UC freshmen, on average, reported spending longer amounts of time per week in preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework, etc.) – 16 hours – than the national average of freshmen (14 hours), UC’s urban peer institutions (15.5 hours), the freshman average from Carnegie research institutions (15.3 hours), and the state’s large, four-year public institutions (14.9 hours)

UC freshmen also reported higher collaborative learning experiences with their peers, as well as student-faculty interactions, compared with UC’s large, urban peer institutions, Carnegie research institutions used in comparisons and large, 4-year Ohio public institutions. 

UC seniors spent an average of 15.6 hours per week preparing for class, compared with the national average of 15 hours, UC’s urban peer institutions (15.6 hours), Carnegie research institutions (an average of 15.7 hours) and Ohio’s large, four-year public institutions (14.5 hours).

Student Survey Results Are Lessons for the Academic and Student Administration

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Findings from these surveys allow institutions to keep track of student success as well as to continue to build on academic excellence and student support services. Previous results from NSSE have resulted in the creation of UC’s One Stop Student Service Center – now an 11-year-old establishment in University Pavilion, the heart of campus, as well as additional learning communities and 24-hour computer labs. UC has also added to its staff of academic advisors as a result of student input like the NSSE survey.




About NSSE


The 2013 survey involved 335,000 first-year and senior students attending 568 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities. Approximately 1,478 UC freshmen and 1,974 UC seniors participated in the 2013 survey. The survey was conducted last spring. UC participates in NSSE every other year.

The 2013 survey was updated with new measures of student engagement, including four key themes and 10 engagement indicators, to further identify and compare different areas of student learning.

UC first took part in the survey in 2002.

NSSE Themes
  • Academic Challenge
  • Learning with Peers
  • Experience with Faculty
  • Campus Environment
Themes/Engagement Indicators

Academic Challenge – Higher-order learning; reflective and integrative learning; learning strategies; quantitative reasoning

Learning with Peers – Collaborative learning; discussions with diverse others

Experiences with Faculty – Student-faculty interaction; effective teaching practices

Campus Environment – Quality of interactions; supportive environment

UC’s Institutional Comparisons

Urban Peer Institutions – Michigan State University; The Ohio State University; University of Colorado Boulder; University of Houston; University of South Carolina; University of South Florida; University of Washington-Seattle

‘Carnegie Class’ Institutions – Carnegie Mellon; Iowa State University; Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College; Michigan State University; Mississippi State University; North Dakota State University; The Ohio State University; Oregon State University; Tulane University of Louisiana; University of Alabama in Huntsville; University of Arkansas; University of Colorado Boulder; University of Connecticut; University of Houston; University of Kansas; University of Nebraska at Lincoln; University of Oklahoma; University of South Carolina; University of South Florida; University of Utah; University of Washington-Seattle

Large, 4-Year Ohio Public Institutions – Bowling Green State University; Miami University-Oxford; The Ohio State University; University of Akron; University of Toledo; Wright State University; Youngstown State University

Survey and comparisons conducted by UC Institutional Research

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