Ranking rancor

USA Today did us all a service with a balanced treatment of NSSE rankings versus USA Today rankings. Be sure to peruse the database they supply … easily the most valuable piece for recruiting professionals.
I especially appreciated the page on  “What schools across the  USA are doing to engage students” High points:

Appalachian State’s Freshman Seminar uses systematic get-acquainted and accountability efforts to keep following up on each other. Grades are better, and satisfaction is up.

Wagner College (NYC) and Evergreen State (Olympia, WA) also use “learning communities” to enhance accountability, not just among freshmen.

Elon University (NC) and the University of Dayton (OH) ramped up writing requirements. At Elon, for example, a media writing course requires 14 to 16 news reports each term, usually assigned on a given day to cover an immediate news event, with a 2am filing deadline. Inaccuracy or tardiness nets a zero.

Miami University (Oxford, OH) offers 140 senior capstone courses, which usually have only 25 students engaged in cooperative learning projects. This is designed to meet the NSSE objective of “opportunities to integrate, synthesize, and apply knowledge.”

At Wabash College, (Crawfordsville, IN),  every senior takes both oral and written comprehensive exams to demonstrate what he or she has learned in the preceding four years. The formal oral exam takes place before a jury of three faculty members.

Other programs described in the article include practical opportunities for diversity education at U of Michigan, first-generation student support at Cal State, and innovative cultural activities at the University of Virginia.

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