Students give Misericordia University high marks in national survey

Freshmen and seniors participated in the survey.
Freshmen and seniors at Misericordia University overwhelmingly rated their overall educational experience as positive and gave their university higher marks than other comparable institutions in several important categories in the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE.) The survey also showed high benchmarking ratings in numerous categories, which are proof of systematic improvement over time since the university began participating in the national survey in 2003.

The 2012 NSSE survey included 285,000 randomly selected first- and fourth-year students from 546 colleges and universities in the United States. The results help institutions confirm “good practices” in undergraduate education and provide a benchmark by which schools can determine an accurate measure of quality education. Results include comparisons to similar colleges, other Catholic colleges and universities, and all schools participating in the survey. This survey included 388 Misericordia students.

“Today, numerous national publications rank institutions of higher education based on different methodology that oftentimes lacks a human element,” said Michael A. MacDowell, president of Misericordia University. “Perhaps the best way to measure whether a college or a university is meeting or surpassing expectations is to ask students and young alumni about their schools. This national survey confirms what our students and their parents have been telling us anecdotally for years.

“The Misericordia tradition of combining outstanding academics, superb career preparation, and honing each individual’s passion to serve others is attractive to today’s students. As our growing enrollment suggests, high school graduates and their parents seem to agree,” President MacDowell added.

In the study, 94 percent of first-year students rated their entire educational experience at Misericordia as good or excellent, compared to an 88 percent average of all other institutions surveyed. Ninety percent said they would choose Misericordia again if they could start over, a figure that is 6 percent higher than freshmen that attend other Catholic institutions in the survey. Freshman respondents also overwhelming rated their faculty as available, helpful and sympathetic (98 percent) and said the university provided the support they needed to succeed academically (92 percent) compared to 81 percent at all other schools surveyed.

Comparatively, 92 percent of MU seniors rated their educational experience as good to excellent, higher than the NSSE average of 87 percent. They rated the campus 11 points higher than others surveyed for providing the support they needed to succeed academically. Seniors also rated the quality of advising 9 percentage points higher than at other surveyed institutions. The MU seniors also felt they learned to work effectively with others (91 percent), and rated Misericordia as helping them develop a personal code of values and ethics (76 percent), 12 percentage points higher than the NSSE average.

Eighty-six percent of MU seniors reported acquiring job or work-related knowledge and skills at Misericordia, compared to 76 percent at other NSSE schools. Survey results also stated that 93 percent said they learned to think critically and analytically, and 98 percent said faculty members were very available, helpful and sympathetic – both higher than the average of other schools surveyed. A majority of MU seniors (71 percent) said they worked harder than they thought they would to meet an instructor’s standards or expectations, 6 percent higher than the NSSE average.

The supportive environment at Misericordia University extends outside the classroom as well. The university was ranked 12 percentage points higher by freshman, and 10 points higher by seniors in the area of helping students cope with non-academic responsibilities, including family and work issues. As many as 97 percent of seniors gave a positive rating when asked about the quality of the relationships they have forged with other students, saying they are friendly, supportive and offer a sense of belonging. By the time they were seniors, 36 percent of the Misericordia students who responded to the survey participated in a community-based project as part of a regular service-learning course compared to 20 percent at all other schools surveyed. Ninety-six percent said they felt they had contributed to the welfare of their community – 17 percent higher than other schools surveyed.

The NSSE 2012 Report is sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It was administered by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research.