Published on December 7, 2020  

Samford University leads in high-impact education according to data reported in the 2020 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).  Samford’s graduating seniors in the class of 2020 reported higher levels of student engagement compared to both private southeastern institutions and peer national doctoral/professional institutions. 

The annual NSSE survey, involving first-year and senior students, represents empirically confirmed practices in undergraduate education that reflect positive student learning outcomes. NSSE has been in operation since 2000 and has been used at more than 1,600 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.  The NSSE questions explore student study habits, educational plans and experiences, time spent out of the classroom, and satisfaction with the campus, faculty and curriculum. Additionally, NSSE also provides results on six “high-impact practices” that are positively associated with student learning, development and retention.

According to NSSE, “High-impact practices share several traits: They demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others and provide frequent and substantive feedback. As a result, participation in these practices can be life-changing.”

Compared to students of other private universities in the southeast as well as peer national doctoral/professional institutions, Samford senior students reported significantly higher participation in all of the high-impact practices assessed:

  • 84% plan to or have done a culminating senior experience, such as a capstone course or senior project or thesis
  • 84% plan to do or have completed an internship by the time they graduate
  • 62% plan to or have participated in service learning
  • 52% have studied abroad or plan to
  • 45% plan to or have participated in a learning community
  • 50% have completed or plan to work with a faculty member on a research project

“The NSSE provides important insights that help us evaluate the student experience at Samford,” University President Andrew Westmoreland said. “We are encouraged by these findings as they affirm the commitment of our faculty and staff to delivering rigorous academic programs in an environment that promotes student engagement through a variety of learning experiences.”   

In addition to the evaluation of high-impact practices, NSSE results serve as an essential data source for various levels of accreditation and academic program review. In commitment to continuous assessment and improvement of the undergraduate experience, Samford administers the survey to its students annually.

High-Impact Practice (HIP) Indicators NSSE 2020 Samford University Private Institutions in the Southeast National Carnegie Peer Institutions Completed a Culminating Senior Experience 84% 43% 35% Completed an Internship or Field Experience 84% 43% 39% Participated in Service Learning 62% 58% 62% Participated in Study Abroad 52% 16% 10% Participated in a Learning Community 45% 20% 19% Participated in Research with a Faculty Member 50% 21% 16% Participated in at Least One High-Impact Practice 99% 77% 79% Participated in Two or More High-Impact Practices 95% 54% 49% Private Institutions in the Southeast are comprised of 119 private colleges and universities from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The National Carnegie Peer Institutions are comprised of 88 doctoral/professoinal universities included in Samford’s Carnegie Classification.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.
Samford University 2020 Annual Report