National survey shows GGC among top 10 percent in student engagement

A national survey released earlier this month finds that Georgia’s newest four-year institution of higher learning, Georgia Gwinnett College, ranks among the top 10 percent of participating institutions throughout the country in its commitment to the educational success of its students. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) released its annual report recently and the results were very encouraging to GGC’s faculty and staff.

A national survey released earlier this month finds that Georgia’s newest four-year institution of higher learning, Georgia Gwinnett College, ranks among the top 10 percent of participating institutions throughout the country in its commitment to the educational success of its students. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) released its annual report recently and the results were very encouraging to GGC’s faculty and staff.

“This is a significant finding and validates GGC’s efforts to find ways to help students have a successful college experience,” GGC Vice President of Academic Affairs Stas Preczewski said following the release of the report. “Finding new methods of improving student success and relating that to academic achievement are of paramount importance to us, and the NSSE results have affirmed that we are on the right track.”

First-year GGC students report that their level of student engagement is similar to that of students in the top 10 percent of schools surveyed nationwide as having access to enriching educational experiences, active and collaborative learning environments and student/faculty interaction. It is important to note that the students surveyed were members of the college’s first freshman class.

“These are terrific results,” GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman said today. “We have put a great deal of effort into making Georgia Gwinnett College an institution devoted to student success, and I believe this survey shows we are succeeding in accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves when we opened our doors.”

Each year, the NSSE obtains information from students at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities nationwide about their level of engagement in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. This past spring NSSE collected data from more than 770 colleges and universities. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items on The National Survey of Student Engagement represent empirically confirmed "best practices" in undergraduate education. That is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college.

Institutions use their data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices in order to be more consistent with best practices in undergraduate education. This information also is used by prospective college students, their parents, college counselors, academic advisers and researchers in learning more about how students spend their time at different colleges and universities and what they gain from their experiences.

Georgia Gwinnett College also scored in the top 10 percent among freshmen when it came to providing the support needed to help students succeed academically, cope with non-academic responsibilities, thrive socially and develop quality relationships with both other students and faculty. In addition, the college received superior marks from the college’s newest students regarding student/faculty interaction. This category rated student engagement as they discussed grades and assignments with their instructor, talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor, worked with faculty members on activities outside the classroom (committees, orientation, student-life activities, etc.) and received prompt feedback from faculty regarding academic performance.

“I think you will find that the faculty at Georgia Gwinnett has a mindset that focuses on student interaction, mentoring and support,” Dr. Preczewski said. “We want our students to have a quality relationship with their professors. GGC encourages two-way communication and the mentoring of students by our faculty.” Dr. Preczewski notes that research shows student/faculty interaction is key to the success of any learning institution, and the faculty and staff have made intensive interaction a foundation of GGC’s legacy.

The college also received high marks among freshmen for active and collaborative learning. Studies show that students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and collaborate with others when it comes to problem solving or mastering difficult material.

“We know that when you engage students in collaborative activities they will stay in college and persist to timely graduation,” Dr. Preczewski continued. “That is our goal. Not only do we want to get the students to attend college, we want to retain them and see that they receive a degree so that they can achieve the goal they have set for themselves – graduating from college.”

Surprisingly, freshmen at GGC also put the college in the top 10 percent when it comes to enriching educational experiences, even though the college is relatively new and doesn’t yet offer some of the extracurricular activities other schools might such as athletics, sororities and fraternities. The college does, however, encourage volunteerism and community service, study abroad programs, and broad contact among students – particularly among students of a different racial, ethnic or socio-economic background.

“I am very pleased with the findings,” Dr. Kaufman said. “My hat is off to the GGC faculty members and staff who have recognized the critical importance of student engagement and have made a commitment to do just that. The success of our students and the future of this college rests squarely on their shoulders, and the outcomes in this survey show that we are doing it right.”

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