Berea Students Rate High in Academic Engagement

Compared to national norms, Berea students’ ratings of engagement were outstanding related to understanding and interacting with people from different backgrounds, ethnic groups, or those with opinions and ideas different from their own. Berea students also reported significantly higher levels of synthesizing and applying knowledge, reading, writing, internship participation, study abroad, and community service. These findings are part of the results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) administered to freshmen and seniors in Spring Term 2003. The Lumina Foundation funded the survey as part of a larger study aimed at understanding the relationship of work and learning at the Work Colleges.

The NSSE measures the extent to which students are involved in educational practices related to high levels of learning and development. It has a strong national reputation and is often used as evidence of institutional effectiveness.

How Berea Students’ NSSE Ratings Ranked Among
Baccalaureate General Colleges (Our Carnegie Classification)

Overall, Berea seniors rated survey items related to academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, and student-faculty interaction higher than did Berea freshmen. Both freshmen and seniors had similar ratings for items within the category of enriching educational experiences. Also, the ratings of both Berea seniors and freshmen ranked very favorably compared to students at other Baccalaureate General institutions (our Carnegie category that includes schools that grant the majority of their degrees in what are considered the non-liberal arts majors like nursing, education, business, industrial arts).

How Berea Students’ NSSE Ratings
Ranked Among Liberal Arts Colleges

When compared to liberal arts colleges, including 14 of Berea’s benchmark institutions (those we use for faculty salary comparisons), our students’ ratings ranked somewhat lower in most categories but higher in the category of active and collaborative learning.

To know more about the survey results, please read our study (PDF file).

Response from the Provost’s Committee

These results are relevant to our commitment to provide a top quality liberal arts education to our students. They will be the subject of conversations in a variety of areas including academic programs, academic support services, student life, and student government. We’ll need to work together to understand the reasons why our students’ ratings are high in some areas and not as high in others. We believe that improvement, where needed, will flow from both a shared understanding and the willingness of all parties to engage in dialog and problem-solving.


We will be sending more Study Briefs over the next few weeks. Please send your ideas, comments, or questions to Judith Weckman ( Also, feel free to contact any of the Provost’s Committee members listed below.

Provost Committee Members
Joe Bagnoli, Associate Provost
Stephanie Browner, Dean of the Faculty
Jackie Burnside, Associate Dean of the Faculty
Delphia Canterbury, Staff Support
Jamie Ealy, Director of Admissions
Don Hudson, Associate Provost for Advising and Academic Success
Dave Porter, Provost, 2001–05
Judith Weckman, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment
Gail Wolford, Vice President for Labor and Student Life