Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Engagement Insights: Looking at the NSSE Data

As many at UW Tacoma know, we are / have been / will continue to be swept up in change. It's inevitable as society changes to digital; as our students now better represent the whole rather than the privileged few; as our campus leadership changes; as our faculty think about unionizing to counter the increasing hires of PT and FT lecturers, as globalization and technology change everything around us. 

Many realize we must now change our teaching to keep up and to be responsive to the students spending so much money to be here, but find they can't stay here. SO: we now have a Lower Division Task Force to examine why we lose ~50% of our first year cohorts before graduation day. To figure it out, we can't look to story or blame or if only wishes for days gone by. 

Instead, we're gathering artifacts that might provide new ways of educating lower division students. Here's one people might want to ponder: the National Survey of Student Engagement's latest report on the students' perceived experience of undergraduate education.

Some reveals: they want to be challenged with relevant, engaging work; they want more creative work; they feel more engaged and challenged with online experiences. Financial stress was common among undergraduates, particularly among first-generation, women, Black, and Hispanic students. 

Here's hoping the Task Force considers the voice of students in defining change, and rewarding the faculty willing to embrace change for the good of our students. We can yank graduation rates higher than 50-some per cent. If we're willing to change, to be uniquely UW Tacoma, to be the campus that responds to student need with thoughtful, innovative, data-driven solutions. 

If not us, who? If now now...2016 so bright, we should be wearing shades.