Evergreen one of top colleges in nation for academic challenge and student engagement

November 7, 2005


OLYMPIA, Wash. - Findings from a national survey released today show The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. is one of the most academically challenging colleges in America.

The alternative college in Olympia, Wash. was also highly rated for active and collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences for both first-year students and seniors in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

"This survey highlights Evergreen's high academic standards and the remarkable depth of engagement that our students experience," said Thomas L. (Les) Purce, president of The Evergreen State College.

The survey is based on information from 237,000 first-year and senior students at 528 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. The study gives schools and students a means to assess student learning and what students receive from their undergraduate experience.

The study notes that Evergreen freshmen and seniors in particular spend more time preparing for class, read more textbooks and have a high level of coursework participation that involves analyzing basic elements of an idea and synthesizing and organizing ideas into more complex interpretation and relationships.

Evergreen is marked in the top ten-percent of the schools surveyed in the level of academic challenge as well as the level of active and collaborative learning among first-year students. Evergreen also scored well among senior students in the same categories. The study showed that students at Evergreen spend significantly more time working in peer groups during class to complete projects. Evergreen students are remarkably engaged in their learning and frequently discuss ideas from class work beyond the walls of the classroom, the study indicates.

"Engagement is a critical factor in the educational process because the more time and energy students devote to desired activities, the more likely they are to develop the habits of the mind that are key to success after college," says George Kuh, NSSE director and Indiana Univ. Bloomington professor of higher education. Kuh says engagement is positively related to important standards of student success and graduation.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching sponsors the annual NSSE survey for the Advancement of Teaching.

Founded in 1967 as an alternative to traditional education, The Evergreen State College is a top example of interdisciplinary education in America. Academic studies are organized into interdisciplinary learning communities focused on specific themes with real-world relevance. Evergreen was recently studied as one of twenty colleges in America who are exceptionally successful in student engagement and featured in Student Success In College by the American Assoc. for Higher Education, 2005.