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NSSE data shows IC students widely engaged and supported


NSSE surveys are a nationally respected standard used to measure student engagement at colleges and universities throughout the country.

Recently released data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), show Illinois College students are more engaged in hands-on, high-impact learning activities — including student-faculty research, internships and service-learning — than students at other colleges in the comparison group which includes private colleges throughout the Midwest. 

A significantly higher percentage of IC seniors reported participating in high impact learning activities than their comparison group counterparts at similar colleges. Strikingly, 94% of IC seniors reported that they engaged in more than one high-impact learning activity, while only 72% of seniors at similar schools in the region reported doing so. Significantly higher percentages of IC seniors reported gains in critical thinking and in effective writing and speaking than did seniors at comparison institutions.  

Provost and Dean of the College Catharine O’Connell said the active learning practices measured within the survey data are proven by decades of research to have a strong connection to student learning and retention. She also said these experiences cultivate the traits that today’s employers value.

“This is another indicator that Illinois College is providing a valuable education that prepares our students to Graduate READY for success in the workplace and graduate school. They are strong communicators and strategic thinkers,” O'Connell said.
On average, IC students also reported that they experienced a more supportive environment than did students at comparison institutions. For seniors, the positive responses were significantly higher for IC students compared to students in the comparison group.

NSSE surveys are a nationally respected standard used to measure student engagement at colleges and universities throughout the country and conducted by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research. The independent survey is conducted at IC every three years and serves as a widely trusted source of information for incoming students making their college decision. Results are also useful internally for colleges in evaluating their effectiveness.

O’Connell added that these results reflect a campus-wide effort — the powerful educational experiences measured by the survey require a considerable commitment of time and effort by IC faculty and students, often working collaboratively in diverse groups. 

The Midwest data comparison group includes private colleges similar to IC throughout Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. In 2020, 484,242 first-year and senior respondents from 601 institutions participated in the survey nationwide.

About Illinois College

Founded in 1829, Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college fostering academic excellence rooted in opportunities for experiential learning while preparing students for lifelong success. The college is located in Jacksonville, Illinois. With an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, the college offers over 50 undergraduate programs. In 1932 the society of Phi Beta Kappa established a chapter at Illinois College, and it remains one of only 11 in the state.

Illinois College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

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Rosalind Essig | Senior Writer
217.245.3194 |