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Tuesday, 8 Apr 2008
For immediate release Tuesday 8 April 2008
University students less engaged than US counterparts
Australian and New Zealand tertiary students are less engaged with their universities than their North American counterparts according to results from a new study of student engagement released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).
More than 9000 students from 25 Australian and New Zealand universities participated in the first administration of the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) in 2007.
Results reveal that, on average, Australian and New Zealand students find their study slightly less academically challenging than students in the US. They report lower levels of contact with teaching staff and are less likely to have participated in activities described as ‘enriching educational experiences.’ For instance, while 53 per cent of later-year US students had participated in a practicum, internship, fieldwork or clinical placement, only 28 per cent of Australasian students had taken part in such an experience.
Generally, the responses of Australian and New Zealand students became more positive between first year and later years of study. However, students believed they received less support from their universities over time.
Students in Education and Health fields reported the highest levels of engagement and students in the Information Technology field reported the lowest.
Students who work between one and 30 hours tended to report higher levels of engagement than students who do not work and those who work for more than 30 hours per week.
According to the AUSSE Director, Dr Hamish Coates, student engagement data provide an important source of information on educational quality.
“When universities offer students an environment that is supportive of their learning efforts, students are more likely to provide positive evaluations of their educational experience and report that they would attend the same institution if they were to start their course again.”
“The results suggest that students feel their educational experience has been most valuable when they are challenged to learn in a supportive environment and have encountered work-relevant learning experiences,” Dr Coates said.
Participating institutions were provided with AUSSE institution reports including the institution’s own survey data in November 2007.
The newly released public report presents an overview of the AUSSE, key results and summary information on how institutions may use the results to enhance student engagement and learning.
The full public report, Attracting, Engaging and Retaining: New Conversations About Learning and background information about AUSSE can be found at www.acer.edu.au/ausse/