Small schools excel, Canada lags behind the U.S. and the undergrad revolution
Below you will find the results from two major student surveys: the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC).
THE SURVEYS: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY WERE DONE
The NSSE and CUSC surveys, which were commissioned by the universities themselves, ask more than 150 questions about the undergraduate experience—inside the classroom and beyond. The answers help each university assess the quality of its programs and services. The surveys can also be used by the public to do the same.
The U.S.-based NSSE began in 1999 and is distributed to first- and senior-year students. NSSE is not primarily a student satisfaction survey, but is rather a study of best-educational practices—known as correlates of learning—and an assessment of the degree to which each university follows those best practices.
In 2004, 11 Canadian universities participated for the first time in NSSE, with more than 14,000 students completing the survey. Participation has grown considerably since then: more than 700 American universities took part in the 2008 NSSE; they were joined by 47 Canadian institutions, where 78,288 undergrads filled out the survey.
The NSSE results are headlined by the Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice, created by NSSE to compare performance across all universities—American and Canadian—in five key areas: Level of Academic Challenge, Student-Faculty Interaction, Active and Collaborative Learning, Enriching Educational Experience, and Supportive Campus Environment. Each school’s benchmark result was calculated by NSSE, based on student responses to a variety of questions. NSSE also asked two important student satisfaction questions; school-by-school results appear on the following pages.
CUSC was created in 1994; it is a Canada-only survey, and unlike NSSE, it is in large part about student satisfaction. In 2008, 31 institutions took part, including two universities—UBC and the University of New Brunswick—that surveyed multiple campuses. Surveys were sent to a random sample of approximately 1,000 undergraduates at each university. Institutions with fewer than 1,000 undergrads surveyed the entire cohort. Nearly 12,000 students responded.
For the results of seven CUSC satisfaction questions, read the web-exclusive charts.