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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh seniors and freshmen are encouraged to keep an eye on their inboxes starting March 4.

Arriving that day will be a link to an approximately 20-minute survey that gives each and every student taking it the opportunity to shape life and learning at UW Oshkosh.

Campus administrators and students alike are urging freshmen and senior students to keep their fingers off the delete button when the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) link arrives March 4. Last completed by UW Oshkosh students in 2011, the survey is an incredibly valuable feedback tool designed to collect information from students at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities around the United States.

UW Oshkosh students are already encouraging their first-year and senior peers to take the 2014 survey when it is released and help the University dramatically boost the completion rate.

“It’s vital that students let UW Oshkosh know what they think, so the University can shape its resources and better help the student body,” said UW Oshkosh student Sarah Kofler, one of a team of peer mentors who helped launch the University’s new University Studies Program, a redesign of general education.

The NSSE is built upon a series of simple questions gather the critical feedback on participation in programs and activities that institutions provide, improve and develop for students’ learning and personal development. The survey results will tell UW Oshkosh faculty and administrators about student and faculty interaction, inside and outside of class. Survey results are also influential in the University’s decision making processes for new learning experiences and learning spaces on campus.

Survey questions gauge things such as: the time students spend preparing for class; the number of hours students read and write connected to their studies; and the degree to which students find their college courses challenging. The responses provide direction for campus leaders and faculty members who may be designing or modernizing an array of academic programs, campus experiences, facilities and student services.

“UW Oshkosh students are active and involved in the classroom with group projects and case studies; on campus with clubs and organizations; and in local communities through service-learning and civic-engagement projects such as Hands-On Oshkosh,” said Michael Lueder, the Quest III Community Experience Coordinator with UW Oshkosh’s new University Studies Program. “

“We need to be able to brag about the great stuff that’s going on,” Lueder said. “We need students to complete the NSSE so we can document all that amazing things that are happening. Students are doing a lot these days, but this survey is one they can’t pass up. They should think of the NSSE as a small way to contribute with big returns on their investment of time.”

The NSSE survey link will land in UW Oshkosh freshman and senior students’ email inboxes in the first week of March. The 2013 NSSE sought responses from nearly 335,000 first-year and senior students attending 568 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities, according to survey report “A Fresh Look at Student Engagement,” released last November.

Among the report’s findings: “First-year students spent an average of 14 hours per week preparing for class, and seniors averaged one hour more. Of this, six and seven hours per week, respectively, were devoted to assigned reading. Overall, about 55 percent of first-year students and 61 percent of seniors felt strongly (6 or 7 on a 7-point scale) that their courses challenged them to do their best work.”

It is revealing data like that that helps campus faculty and administrators reexamine, calibrate and refine programs, teaching and student support initiatives on campus.

“Twenty minutes or so of students’ time taking the easy-to-complete, online survey will provide UW Oshkosh with the feedback and insight that can help shape years-worth of academic program improvements and enhancements to enrich our institution’s effectiveness and the campus’s quality of life,” UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells said.

“I personally urge each freshman and senior student to make that time to take the survey,” Wells said. “We have such a valued practice here of listening to and following the guidance and lead of our student body. The NSSE is an opportunity that arrives once every few years and provides one of the most important avenues for us to, together, keep our tradition of student-responsiveness thriving.”

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