All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE), AISHE-C 2011: The Challenge for Graduates in a Changed World

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Benchmarking Student Engagement as a Basis for Academic and Curriculum Development
Sylvia Huntley Moore, Aileen Patterson

Last modified: 2011-11-18


Student engagement has become a much used measurement of the quality of degree programmes. There are two critical features of student engagement: the first is the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other educationally purposeful activities. The second is how the institution deploys its resources and organizes the curriculum to provide students with opportunities to participate in activities that improve student learning.


The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) identifies five factors that contribute to the level of student engagement:  level of academic challenge; active and collaborative learning; student-staff interaction; enriching educational experiences and a supportive campus environment.


1325 students from five undergraduate degree programmes in a Faculty of Health Sciences were surveyed using a modified version of the NSSE.  The study investigated students from all years in each of the programmes to ascertain a profile of student engagement across the Faculty.


The results for the Faculty of Health Sciences were compared to the international benchmarks for very research intensive universities.


The results for 3 out of the 5 scales were comparable for those published for very research intensive universities. 4 out of 5 programmes scored significantly lower in the Student-Staff interaction scale. One programme’s scores were in line with international results and this programme has the lowest student- staff ratio in Faculty of Health Sciences. Student scores regarding the supportive campus environment were also lower than international benchmarks. In all cases the scores declined over the course of the programmes.


In this presentation we will elaborate some of our key NSSE findings and discuss ways in which the NSSE results can be used to inform academic and curriculum development.