According to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Bluefield College is considered to be intellectually challenging and committed to students’ success, compared to other colleges across the country.
In the 2009 NSSE report, titled “Assessment for Improvement: Tracking Student Engagement Over Time,” Bluefield College also scored higher than its peer colleges in building positive relationships with students, assisting students with career plans, and involving students in community service.
Sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSSE annual surveys are designed to provide participating colleges with diagnostic, actionable information that can be used to improve undergraduate education. More than 360,000 students from over 600 colleges participate in the annual surveys that measure students’ exposure to and involvement in effective educational practices.
Five key areas of educational quality are measured, including the level of academic challenge on campus, the presence of active and collaborative learning, the degree of student-faculty interaction, the volume of enriching educational experiences, and the existence of a supportive campus environment.
In the area of academic challenge, Bluefield College scored higher than its aspirant institutions. Here, students gave BC high marks for having “challenging intellectual and creative work.”
Bluefield also outpaced peer groups in the area of a supportive campus community. Here, students indicated a high level of confidence in the fact that BC is “committed to the students’ success.”
For example, 73 percent of students surveyed at Bluefield College said they had a “positive relationship with administrative personnel and offices,” compared to just 60 percent of students at other colleges. Fifty-six percent of BC students said the institution “substantially helps students cope with non-academic matters,” compared to just 45 percent of students who responded to the question from peer institutions.
In the area of career counseling, only 40 percent of students at aspirant institutions said they had discussed career plans with a faculty member or advisor, while 53 percent said they had at Bluefield College.
In addition, with its mission as a Christian college to be in service to God and the community, BC fared well in the area of community service. Sixty-three percent of Bluefield students surveyed said they had participated in community service or volunteer work, compared to just 43 percent at peer colleges. Thirty-six percent of BC students surveyed said they completed a community-based project as part of a regular course, compared to just 15 percent of students from other colleges.
“Colleges and universities derive enormous internal value from participating in the NSSE,” said Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and a member of the NSSE’s National Advisory Board. “Of equal importance is the reassurance to their external publics that a commitment to and improvement of undergraduate education are high priorities.”
The NSSE has collected data from hundreds of four-year colleges and universities nationwide since 1999, using its results to confirm “good practices” in undergraduate education. If the NSSE is any indicator as to what college students are gaining from their experiences, then Bluefield College is indeed fulfilling its mission.
“Our mission is to offer a challenging academic experience within a diverse Christian environment,” said BC president, Dr. David Olive, “one that transforms students’ lives and prepares them to think critically, communicate effectively, and adapt readily to a changing world.”