CTLT Dialogues

The Blog of the Center for Teaching & Learning with Technology

National Survey of Student Engagement shows online students more engaged, challenged

Posted by Cathy Kelley on November 10, 2008

An interesting article in the Nov. 14 issue of Chronicle of Higher Education describes some of the key results of this year’s National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, called “Nessie”). Among many other interesting findings, the report indicates that online students are considerably more engaged in their learning than are students in traditional face-to-face programs. For example, online students are more likely to indicate that they “Participated in discussions about important topics in (their) major field or discipline” or “Participated in course activities that challenged (them) intellectually.” A finding especially relevant to FDU is that online students were more likely to report that they “Participated in discussions that enhanced (their) understanding of different cultures.”

This finding appears only in this year’s NSSE, as it is the first time that NSSE has distinguished between online and face-to-face programs.

The Chronicle article describes some possible reasons for this finding, including that online instructors may be making a special effort to engage online learners. Another possible reason is that online students tend to be more motivated and self-directed. In any case, it seems clear that generally sepaking, online students are not feeling lost or isolated in the online environment.

Lipka, S. (2008). Does it matter where you go to college? The Chronicle of HIgher Education, Nov. 14 2008. Available at http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i12/12a03001.htm (password required).

If you don’t have an account with the Chronicle and want me to e-mail you a “pass” to view the article, please send a request to clkelley at fdu dot edu. I can send you a pass that will work for several days.

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