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Faculty Survey of Student Engagement

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					2006 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) Results for the University of Ottawa
Introduction Institutional Research and Planning is pleased to present the results from the 2006 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). This survey was designed to gauge the quality of the learning experience of our student body from the point of view of our professoriate. We expect that these results will help interpret those obtained from the NSSE—the student survey counterpart—and identify strategies for improvement. The Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) was designed by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research, the same centre that designed and administers the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The faculty survey parallels the undergraduate student survey to a great extent. The faculty version, however, focuses on faculty perceptions of how often students engage in different activities, on the importance faculty place on various areas of learning and development, on the nature and frequency of faculty-student interactions, and on how faculty members organize their time, both in and out of the classroom. The faculty survey was pilot-tested in 2003 and officially launched in 2004. The Centre for Postsecondary Research does not yet have the capabilities to administer this survey in both English and French. The University of Ottawa entered in a user agreement with the Centre to acquire the rights to undertake this survey in 2006. As a result, however, results from peer post-secondary institutions are not available for comparison purposes. We invited approximately 1,000 full-time professors to participate in the survey in February 2006. The response rate was 27.3%. The correspondence between the faculty and student surveys — FSSE and NSSE — is not perfect. Nonetheless, NSSE’s clusters of effective educational practices, also called the NSSE benchmarks, have provided a framework to organize the comparison the results between the two studies. Benchmarks as defined in NSSE 2005 have been used throughout this report. This report is organized in five key sections: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experience, and supportive campus environment. In addition, we analyze the contribution made by faculty members to the development of specific skills, such as reading, writing and others. Why is this Important? Many of the results obtained in NSSE 2005 indicated room for improvement. For example, only two thirds of our senior students would attend the University of Ottawa if they could start over again. In addition, only two thirds of our senior students believe their educational experience was good or excellent. Our institution has committed to academic excellence and to focusing on students and their learning experience. Understanding the faculty members’ perspective on the quality of learning and the level of engagement of our undergraduate student body will help identify strategies to improve our results in the years to come. Institutional research and Planning: FSSE 2006 1

What is FSSE?

2006 Implementation

Survey Sample

Comparative Analysis with NSSE

The Level of Academic Challenge
What is this? “Challenging intellectual and creative work is central to student learning and collegiate quality. Colleges and universities promote high levels of student achievement by emphasizing the importance of academic effort and setting high expectations for student performance” (NSSE). Components of Level of Academic Challenge:
         Campus environment emphasizing time spent on studying and on academic work Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, rehearsing, etc.) Coursework emphasizing analysis of the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory Coursework emphasizing synthesis and organizing of ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships Coursework emphasizing the making of judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods Coursework emphasizing application of theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations Working harder than you thought you could to meet an instructor's standards or expectations Number of assigned textbooks, books, or book-length packs of course readings Number of written papers or reports of 20 pages or more; between 5 and 19 pages; and shorter than 5 pages

Time spent studying and on academic work

Our faculty and senior students concur that the University of Ottawa emphasizes spending a significant amount of time on studying and on academic work.1 However, faculty members expect students to dedicate more time to academic activities (e.g., studying, reading, writing, and analyzing data) than students do.
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The majority of faculty respondents (68%) expect students to spend, on average, between three and six hours per week preparing for one class. However, the vast majority (75%) also believe that students spend only between one and four hours doing so. Assuming an average of five courses per session, the expectation expressed by faculty members would translate into students spending between 15 and 30 hours per week on academic activities. However, over half of our senior students reported spending only between 6 and 20 hours per week on such activities (NSSE 2005).

Elements emphasized via coursework

Our professoriate clearly perceives coursework as more academically challenging than students do. Specifically,
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91% of professors believe that coursework emphasizes analytical abilities quite a bit or very much while only 78% of senior students think so

1

When asked whether the campus environment emphasizes spending significant amount of time on studying and on academic work, the mean response from NSSE 2005 senior respondents was 2.94 and the mean response from FSSE 2006 faculty respondents was 2.96, where 1= very little, 2=some, 3=quite a bit, and 4= very much.

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

 

87% of professors believe that coursework emphasizes synthesizing and organizing ideas and information quite a bit or very much while only 67% of senior students do so 75% of professors believe that coursework emphasizes making judgments quite a bit or very much while only 61% of senior students do so 84% of professors believe that coursework emphasizes applying theories to solving practical problems quite a bit or very much while only 66% students do so. Elements emphasized by course work
(1= very little, 2=some, 3=quite a bit, 4=very much)

FSSE 2006 3.53 3.42 3.16 3.41

NSSE 2005 seniors 3.13 2.92 2.79 2.97

Analyzing the basic elements of an idea, experience, or theory, such as examining a particular case or situation in depth and considering its components Synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships Making judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods, such as examining how others gathered and interpreted data and assessing the soundness of their conclusions Applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations

Working as hard as they think they could

Our students do not seem to be working as hard as they think they could. In NSSE 2005, only 42% of our seniors reported working harder than they thought possible often or very often. Professors are well aware of this since 48% of them reported that only between 25 and 50 per cent of their students would frequently work harder than they think they could. When asked about the number of textbooks, books or book-length packs of course readings assigned in their standard undergraduate courses, 13% of faculty respondents report that they do not assign any. Nonetheless, close to half of professors will assign students at least one such reading. About 60% of our faculty respondents report not having assigned any written reports of 20 pages or more to their students and 40% report not having assigned any written reports between 5 and 19 pages. Despite this, the University of Ottawa outperforms its peer institutions in the number of long and medium-length reports written by senior students (NSSE 2005). However, our institution lags behind its comparators in the number of short written assignments (shorter than five pages) prepared by seniors2. This result is confirmed by 46% of our faculty respondents who report not having assigned this type of work.

Number of readings

Number of written reports

What is this?
2

When asked about the number of assigned written reports of fewer than five pages, the mean response from uOttawa senior students was 2.51 while it was 3.08 at US peer institutions, where 1= none, 2=between 1-4, 3=between 5-10, 4=between 11-20 and 5= more than 20.

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Active and Collaborative Learning
“Students learn more when they are intensely involved in their education and asked to think about what they are learning in different settings. Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult material prepares students for the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter daily during and after college.” (NSSE) Components of Active and Collaborative Learning:
       Asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions Made a class presentation Worked with other students on projects during class Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments Tutored or taught other students Participated in a community-based project as part of a regular course Discussed ideas from readings or classes with others outside of class (students, family members, co-workers, etc.)

NSSE 2005 results

The NSSE 2005 results showed that although learning does become more active and collaborative as the level of seniority increases at our institution, it does not reach the levels offered at comparative institutions. This might result from the lack of emphasis placed by our faculty on some best practices identified in this area. The items related to the NSSE benchmark focus on a few activities deemed important for collaborative learning. FSSE also provides insights into additional dimensions of learning including the way in which class time is spent. Although the vast majority of professors rely on traditional lecture-based lessons — one-third of faculty respondents report that 75% or more of class time is spent on lecture and one-third report that between 50% and 74% of class time is spent on lecture. Some activities that involve students more actively in their learning are being used. For example, of faculty respondents:  56% report that between 1 and 19% of class time is spent on teacher-led discussion  30% report that between 1 and 19% of class time is spent on teacher-student shared responsibility  27% report that between 1 and 19% of class time is spent on small group activities  26% report that between 1 and 19% of class time is spent on student presentations Regarding in-class learning activities, close to 60% of faculty respondents report that only between one and 24 per cent of students in their class ask questions or contribute to class discussions frequently and only about 40% of faculty report that students often or very often work with others on projects during class.

Distribution of Class Time

Learning in Class

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Learning Outside of Class

Faculty members were asked to rate the importance for their course of the following learning activities outside of class: 3  31% of faculty respondents report that working with classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments is not important.  27% of professors report that discussing ideas or readings from class with others outside of class (other students, family members, co-workers) is not important  48% of professors report that tutoring or teaching other students (paid or voluntary) is not important. In addition, close to 80% of faculty report that their students never participate, as part of their course, in a community-based project (e.g., service learning). This result is consistent with those reported by students.4

Activities deemed important for learning

Faculty members were also asked to rate the importance of a number of learning activities for their course. There is a relatively good degree of convergence between the activities that faculty members deem important and the activities that students had the opportunity to undertake. However, not as many students report having:  learned something that changes the way they understand an issue or concept, or  examined the strengths and weaknesses of their views. Activities Deemed Important for Learning by uOttawa Faculty Members
% faculty who deem activity is important or very important % senior students who had opportunity to do this often or very often
Learn something that changes the w ay they understand an issue or concept 88% 60%

Work on a paper or project that requires integrating ideas or information from various sources

70% 84%

Examine the strengths and w eaknesses of their view s on a topic or issue

65% 45%

Put together ideas or concepts from different courses w hen completing assignments or during class discussions

61% 67%

Try to better understand someone else's view s by imagining how an issue looks from that person's perspective

57% 61%

Prepare tw o or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

48% 43%

Work w ith classmates outside of class to prepare class assignments

48% 54%

Discuss ideas or readings from class w ith others outside of class (other students, family members, co-w orkers, etc.)

47% 64% 19% 18% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Tutor or teach other students (paid or voluntary)

3

Despite these results, 54% of senior students reported in NSSE that they work with other classmates often or very often and 64% reported often or very often discussing ideas with others outside of class. 4 In NSSE 2005, 80% of first-year and senior students reported never having participated in a community-based project as part of a regular course.

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Student-Faculty Interaction
What is this? “Students learn firsthand how experts think about and solve practical problems by interacting with faculty members inside and outside the classroom. As a result, their teachers become role models, mentors, and guides for continuous, life-long learning.” (NSSE) Components of Student-Faculty Interaction:
      Discussed grades or assignments with an instructor Talked about career plans with a faculty member or advisor Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with faculty members outside of class Worked with faculty members on activities other than coursework (committees, orientation, student-life activities, etc.) Received prompt feedback from faculty on your academic performance (written or oral) Worked with a faculty member on a research project outside of course or program requirements

NSSE 2005 results

The overall NSSE 2005 results for Student-Faculty Interaction were disappointing. Not only were the scores for each individual item generally low, but also all Canadian institutions significantly underperformed US doctoral-extensive institutions in this benchmark. The responses from faculty members confirm this lack of interaction. Of faculty respondents;  56% report that only between one and 24% of students in a given class will discuss grades or assignments with them occasionally  69% report that only between one and 24% of students in a given class will talk about career plans with them at least once. 15% of faculty members report that none of their students have such discussions with them.  64% report that only between one and 24% of students in a given class will discuss ideas from readings or classes with them outside of class at least once. The vast majority of faculty respondents (76%) report that students often or very often receive prompt feedback from them (oral or written) on their academic performance. However, only 40% of senior students reported receiving such feedback often or very often (NSSE 2005). 57% of faculty respondents deem important or very important that undergraduate students work on a research project with a faculty member outside of course program requirements. Nonetheless, there is likely room for improvement for this indicator and for the overall level of student-faculty interaction outside the classroom:  41% of faculty report spending zero hours per week on working with students on undergraduate research  62% of faculty report spending zero hours per week supervising internships or other field experiences  61% of faculty report spending zero hours per week working with students on activities other than coursework, such as committees

Discussing with students

Providing prompt feedback to students

Working on research with undergraduates

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Enriching Educational Experiences
What is this? “Complementary learning opportunities in and out of class augment academic programs. Experiencing diversity teaches students valuable things about themselves and others. Technology facilitates collaboration between peers and instructors. Internships, community service, and senior capstone courses provide opportunities to integrate and apply knowledge.” (NSSE) Components of Enriching Educational Activities:
           Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, publications, student government, sports, etc.) Practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment Community service or volunteer work Foreign language coursework & study abroad Independent study or self-designed major Culminating senior experience (comprehensive exam, capstone course, thesis, project, etc.) Serious conversations with students of different religious beliefs, political opinions, or personal values Serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity Using electronic technology to discuss or complete an assignment Campus environment encouraging contact among students from different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

Contact among students

Faculty members were asked whether the institution encourages contact among students from different economic, social and racial or ethnic backgrounds.  Only 36% of faculty respondents report that the institution encourages contact among students from different backgrounds quite a bit or very much. Only 28% of senior students report that the university encourages such contacts to the same extent. (NSSE, 2005) This view is also reflected in the degree to which students engage in such activities during class. In particular:  Only 26% of faculty respondents report that students in their class often or very often engage in serious conversations with students of a different race or ethnicity.  Only 25% of faculty respondents report that students in their class often or very often have a serious conversation with students who are very different from them in terms of their religious beliefs, political opinions or personal values.

Participation in co-curricular activities

Only 34% of faculty respondents believe that the institution encourages students to participate in co-curricular activities on campus quite a bit or very much. Students concur with this view since 63% of our senior students report not having participated in such activities (NSSE, 2005)

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Educational Experiences

Faculty members were also asked whether a number of educational experiences were deemed important at the University of Ottawa. Their responses can also be compared to the degree of participation reported by our senior students in NSSE 2005. Although the vast majority of faculty members (79%) indicate that a culminating senior experience is important at our university, only 17% of senior students report having the opportunity of completing a thesis, project, comprehensive exam or other similar educational requirements. Community service and volunteer work are not deemed as important by the institution; however, half of our senior students report having the opportunity to do this. Based on the results, there is likely an opportunity to build on the support of our faculty members to promote more student participation in these activities, including studying a foreign language or studying abroad.

Participation in Educational Experiences
% faculty who deem activity is important or very important at the institution % senior students who did it
Culminating senior experience (capstone course, thesis, project, comprehensive exam, etc.) Practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment 79% 17% 73% 42% 61% 25% 45% 12% 41% 7% 38% 50% 15% 30% 45% 60% 75% 90%

Study of a foreign language*

Independent study or self-designed major**

Study abroad

Community service or volunteer w ork

0%

* The expression "additional language" has been used in NSSE 2005. ** Professors w ere asked for these tw o items separately. 56% deemed independent study as important or very important and 28% deemed a self-designed major as important or very important

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Supportive Campus Environment
What is this? “Students perform better and are more satisfied at colleges that are committed to their success and cultivate positive working and social relations among different groups on campus.” (NSSE) Components of a Supportive Campus Environment:
      Campus environment provides the support you need to help you succeed academically Campus environment helps you cope with your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.) Campus environment provides the support you need to thrive socially Quality of relationships with other students Quality of relationships with faculty members Quality of relationships with administrative personnel and offices

Activities Supported

Faculty members report that our institution’s campus environment provides students with the support needed to thrive academically. Unfortunately, students tend to perceive our campus as much less supportive.  In NSSE 2005, only 45% of our seniors report receiving such support quite a bit or very much whereas 71% of faculty respondents report that our campus supports students to ensure their academic success quite a bit or very much. Students and faculty members concur that our institution does not provide much support to students in relation to non-academic responsibilities or social activities.  19% of faculty respondents report that our campus helps students cope with nonacademic responsibilities quite a bit or very much and 20% of our senior students concur with that statement.  22% of faculty respondents report that our campus provides students with the support needed to thrive socially quite a bit or very much and only 13% of our senior students concur with that statement.

Quality of relationships

Faculty members and senior students appear to have a similar appreciation of the quality of relationships on campus. However, when compared with the scores provided by students in NSSE 2005, faculty members tend to underestimate the quality of the relationship among students and to overestimate the quality of the relationship with administrative personnel. Quality of relationships with
Other students (1=unfriendly, unsupportive, sense of alienation, to 7=available, helpful, sympathetic) Faculty members (1=unavailable, unhelpful, unsympathetic, to 7=available, helpful, sympathetic) Administrative personnel and offices (1=unhelpful, inconsiderate, rigid to, 7=available, helpful,
sympathetic)

NSSE 2005 seniors 5.03 4.83 3.92

FSSE 2006 4.69 4.64 4.34

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Contribution to Skill Development
Faculty members were asked to assess the extent to which they structure their classes to help students develop a number of skills, listed in the chart below. Two interesting conclusions are drawn when the assessment made by professors is compared with the one made by senior students in NSSE 2005. First, there are a number of skills on which the majority of professors tend to focus, including thinking critically and analytically, and learning effectively on their own. However, a smaller proportion of senior students perceived that the University contributed very much or quite a bit to develop these skills. Second, there is another group of skills to which the institution might be contributing inadvertently or indirectly, such as the ability to use computing technology, the acquisition of a broad general education and learning to work effectively with others. Appreciation of contribution to skill development
% faculty members who structure their class very much/quite a bit so that students develop these skills % senior students who indicated that uOttawa contributed very much/quite a bit to develop these skills
Thinking critically and analytically Learning effectively on their ow n Acquiring job or w ork-related know ledge and skills Writing clearly and effectively Solving complex and realw orld problems Acquiring a broad general education Analyzing quantitative problems Speaking clearly and effectively Working effectively w ith others Developing a personal code of values and ethics Understanding themselves Using computing and information technology Understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds Developing a deepened sense of spirituality 0% 9% 12% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 37% 52% 33% 54% 31% 36% 28% 49% 28% 59% 24% 38% 42% 59% 50% 39% 48% 69% 93% 79% 81% 67% 66% 56% 60% 61%

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