Four findings are presented on this page. The first two findings used data from the BCSSE 2009 survey administration that included data from more than 73,000 entering first-year students enrolled at 129 baccaluareate institutions across the United States. The other two findings utilized longitudinal data from the BCSSE2008-NSSE2009 combined dataset. This data file contains responses from nearly 15,000 first-year students completed BCSSE prior to the start of their first year, as well as NSSE near the end of the first year of college.
Time on Task
Time on task is an important predictor of student success. One such indicator of time on task is hours spent preparing for class. As indicated in the table below, of those students who reported spending 21 or more hours per week preparing for class, 86% of them expect to spend 21 or more hours preparing for class their first year of college. Likewise, students that reported 10 or fewer hours per week preparing for class in high school were much less likely to report that they expect to spend 21 or more hours preparing for class in college.
Intention to Graduate
Many incoming, first-year students start their school year already intending NOT to graduate from that institution. For instance, in 2009 19% of all BCSSE respondents indicated "no" or "uncertain" when asked, "Do you intend to graduate from this college? There are many reasons why these students may feel uncertain regarding their intention to graduate, but one possible explanation may have to do with their academic confidence. Using the BCSSE scale "Perceived Academic Preparation" we know that many students who were less than certain about their intention to graduate also reported lower levels of academic confidence. As indicated in the graph below, entering first-year students with high levels of academic confidence reported were much less likely to indicate that they did not intend to graduate from that institution (16%) compared to their peers with lower levels of academic confidence (22%).
First-Year Students and Student-Faculty Interaction
Students enter college often expecting high levels of interaction with faculty. However, we also know from previous research that their expectations for this interaction are often unmet. One question is: Are these high levels of expectation for faculty interaction based on their past high school experiences? The answer appears to be "No, not entirely".
As indicated in the table below, 53% of incoming first-year students reported that they often or very often "discussed grades or assignments with a teacher" in high school, but yet 69% expected this type of interaction often/very often during their first year of college. Likewise, only 27% reported that they often or very often "discussed ideas from your readings or classes with teachers outside of class" in high school, yet 48% expected to interact with faculty in this way during their first year. Clearly high levels of student-faculty interaction (SFI) have many benefits for the student. However, this expectation does not appear to arise from their past experiences interacting with teachers in high school.
One possible reason first-year students may report less interaction with faculty is that they believe it will be difficult in some way as they start their first year of college. As indicated below, those students with a "Low" rating of the quality of faculty relationship ("Low"=scores below the grand mean for all first-year students that completed both BCSSE 2008 and NSSE 2009) entered as first-year students with a higher expectation that interacting with faculty will be difficult compared to students with a "High" rating of faculty relationship. In addition, these students with a low rating also reported overall that they not as certain that they would ask instructors for help when they struggle with course assignments.
Learning Communities and Student Engagement
The benefits of learning communities are becoming increasingly known. In addition, the positive benefits of academic engagement on a variety of student outcomes (e.g., persistence and achievement) are also well documented. It is also widely accepted that high school academic engagement is related to first year academic engagement. Using BCSSE 2008-NSSE2009 data, the table below displays the results of the added benefits of participation in a learning community on academic engagement by three levels of high school engagement. The table below reveals that all levels of prior high school engagement, participation in a learning community is related with increased levels of academic engagement during the first year of college. For instance, of those students that reported high school academic engagement level between 4 and 6, those that participated in a learning community reported a mean score of almost 48 compared to a score of 41 for those that did not participate in a learning community.