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Students Identify High-Impact Practices and Collaborative Learning as Widener Strengths in Survey

Widener seniors, like those who presented at the High-Impact Educational Practices Fair last May (pictured here), are 20 percent more likely to have participated in two or more high-impact practices than their peers at other universities.

Widener University undergraduate students are significantly more likely to participate in high-impact educational practices and collaborative learning experiences than their peers at other colleges and universities, according to the most recent results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

NSSE annually collects information at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities about student participation in activities and programs that promote their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending their college or university. Widener uses the data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience that can be improved through changes in policy and practice.

Widener seniors were 20 percent more likely than their peers to have participated in two or more high-impact educational practices, which include such practices as service-learning, research with faculty, internships and senior projects. Eighty-four percent of Widener seniors who responded to the survey participated in two or more of those practices compared to 64 percent of their peers at other institutions.

“High-impact educational practices have been widely tested and proven to be the most effective teaching and learning practices,” said Interim President Stephen C. Wilhite. “It is very encouraging to see that Widener’s commitment to integrating these practices into the curriculum is showing results.”

Additionally, first-year Widener students reported that they were more likely than their peers to participate in collaborative learning experiences such as asking another student to help understand course material (18 percent higher than peers), preparing for exams with other students (15 percent higher than peers), and working with other students on course projects or assignments (12 percent higher than peers).

Widener also did well in the area of student-faculty interaction, with first-year students 14 percent more likely to discuss course topics, ideas or concepts with faculty members outside of class, and seniors 11 percent more likely than their peers to work with faculty members on activities other than coursework.

Wilhite said that Widener did not perform as strongly as its peer institutions in the areas of reflective and integrative learning and supportive environment.

“While it is reaffirming to see the areas where Widener has the greatest strengths, the real benefit of this survey is to see the areas where we can improve,” Wilhite said. “Fortunately, the areas identified in the survey as areas to improve are addressed in the university’s new strategic plan, Vision 2021. We are confident moving forward to turn these areas into strengths.”

Widener respondents rated their overall experience at Widener favorably, with 86 percent of first-year students and 90 percent of seniors rating their experience as “excellent” or “good,” both higher percentages than their peers.

Widener’s response rate to the survey was 13 percent for first-years students and 14 percent for seniors. It marked the sixth year that Widener has participated in the survey.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., proud to be tobacco-free. Visit the university website,