Institutional Research

Facilitate lifelong learning, critical thinking and personal growth


As BGSU strives to realize its vision, a focus on student learning, development, and success toward essential outcomes remains paramount. As noted in the BGSU Academic Plan , it is our goal that our students will proficiently investigate and make connections, write and make presentations, and participate and lead as defined within the learning outcomes of their disciplines. While we seek to empower students to become adaptive lifelong learners, we also bear the responsibility to teach and guide them within a supportive environment, in and outside of the classroom, where expectations are clear and possibilities abundant.

Direct and Indirect Indicators of Student Learning, Development, and Success

The National Survey of Student Engagement, based at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research , was designed to provide information about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for students’ learning and personal development. The results of the NSSE, which has been used at more than 1493 institutions nationally since the year 2000, provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items represent empirically confirmed "good practices" in undergraduate education. That is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college. BGSU has participated in the NSSE in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, and its NSSE results provide numerous indicators pertinent to undergraduate student learning, development, and success.

BGSU freshmen and seniors in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 reported spending approximately the same number of hours per week as students in peer universities engaging in activities such as preparing for class and relaxing and socializing. More specifically in 2009, BGSU freshmen were more likely than the freshmen in the peer institutions to prepare two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before tuning it in and participate in a community-based project as part of a regular course. They, however, were less likely than their counterparts to use an electronic medium to discuss or complete an assignment. Compared with the seniors in peer universities, BGSU seniors were less likely to discuss ideas from their readings or classes with students, family members, co-workers outside of class.

In terms of various academic enrichment activities, BGSU freshmen and seniors, in general, were as likely as the students at peer universities to participate internships or cooperative education, carry out community service/volunteer work, join a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together, work with faculty on research projects, and do independent study or create self-designed major (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009). BGSU students, however, in most of the surveying years, were less likely than their counterparts in peer universities to indicate that they have done or are planning to do activities such as taking a foreign language course,  studying abroad, and participating in culminating senior experiences. 

The NSSE also asks students to report on the extent to which they have gained in a variety of educational and personal areas as a result of their college experiences. The 2009 NSSE results show that most BGSU students have gave their college experience considerable credit, especially in the areas of acquiring a broad general education as well as job/work-related knowledge and skills (thinking critically, speaking and writing clearly, using computer, analyzing quantitative problems, learning effectively by themselves, and working effectively with others). When we compared our students with the students at the peer universities, however, 5% or more of our students were less likely to say that their college education contributed quite a bit or very much in:

  • solving complex real-world problems and learning effectively on their own (for both freshmen and seniors);
  • understanding theirselves and voting in local, state, or national elections (for freshmen only);
  • speaking clearly and effectively, thinking critically and analytically, analyzing quantitative problems, developing personal code of value and ethics, and contributing to the welfare of their community (for seniors only).

Students are also asked by the NSSE to report how much their institutions emphasize certain activities. The 2009 results revealed that freshmen, in general, were more likely than seniors to report that BGSU not only provided "very much" or "quite a bit" of the support they needed to help them succeed academically, but also the support they need to thrive socially. They were also more likely than seniors to indicate that BGSU helped them to cope with their non-academic responsibilities. While 81% of the seniors at the peer universities reported that their institution has emphasized quite a bit or very much in spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work, only 67% of BGSU seniors reported so.

Students were also asked in the 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 administrations of the NSSE to rate the quality of their relationships with other students, faculty members, and administrative personnel and offices. Students, both at BGSU and in the peer universities, were more likely to feel that their fellow students were friendly and supportive, and their faculty members were available, helpful, and sympathetic than to feel that their administrative personnel and offices were helpful, considerate, and flexible. Compared with the freshmen at peer universities, BGSU Freshmen were more likely to report a positive relationships with the others during the last five surveying years. 

The majority of the students evaluated the quality of their entire educational experience as good or excellent.   Consequently, most of them would go to the same institution again if they could start over again. 

NSSE provides an Institutional Engagement Index based upon the survey responses of freshmen and seniors.   A comparison of BGSU’s engagement levels with our peers is show here. Seniors marked higher scores in Active and Collaborative Learning, Student-Faculty Interaction, and Enriching Educational Experiences than did first year students. First year students, on the other hand, marked higher score in Supportive Campus Environment than did seniors. In 2009, BGSU first year students reported higher levels of engagement in all five areas than did the first year students in peer universities. BGSU seniors, however, had two scores (level of academic challenge and supportive campus environment) lower than the ones their counterparts in peer universities had.

The NSSE addresses the Annual Imperative of improving educational and administrative practices through the strategic use of communications, information, and technology through two of its items.  The percentage of BGSU students in 2009 who reported using an electronic medium to discuss or complete an assignment has been somewhat lower than their counterparts at peer universities, while the percentage of BGSU students who reported using an electronic medium to communicate with an instructor  has been somewhat greater than their counterparts at peer universities.

The Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) was introduced on a pilot basis in Spring 2003.  It was designed to parallel NSSE's survey of undergraduate students; rather than examining student engagement, FSSE focuses on: (1) faculty perceptions of how often their students engage in different activities; (2) the importance that faculty place on various areas of learning and development; (3) the nature and frequency of faculty-student interactions; and (4) how faculty members organize class time and related activities. "FSSE is not meant to be a faculty evaluation. Rather, it provides institutions with an opportunity to compare faculty perceptions and student reports about educational opportunities and practices on their campus."  (NSSE, 2003)  BGSU participated in the NSSE pilot.  The report of the results compares the responses of main campus faculty who teach lower-division and upper-division courses, responses of BGSU faculty to those of faculty at two peer universities, and BGSU faculty responses to those of BGSU undergraduates.  The faculty-student comparison of responses serves as a particularly interesting catalyst for discussions concerning teaching, learning, and the quality of students' educational experience.

Gaps exist between faculty responses and student responses in all the items related to educational and personal growth listed on the survey. While faculty were more likely to report that they structured their courses in a way so that their students could develop the skills of thinking critically and analytically, learning effectively on their own, and solving complex real-world problems, BGSU students were more likely to indicate that their experience at BGSU contributed quite a bit or very much in speaking and writing clearly, analyzing quantitative problems, using computing and information technology, working effectively with others, understanding themselves as well as people of other racial backgrounds, acquiring a broad general education as well as job/work-related knowledge/skills.

Compared with students, faculty were also more likely to report that (1) they often or very often give prompt feedback to students on their academic performance;  (2) students often come to class without finishing readings or assignments; and (3) their courses emphasized synthesizing and organizing ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships, as well as applying theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations.  

Faculty, however, were less likely than students to indicate that (1) students often ask questions in class or contribute to class discussions, use e-mail to communicate with them, discuss grades/assignments and career plans with them, discuss ideas from readings or classes with them outside of class, and work harder than they usually do to meet an instructor's standards;   (2) students often use an electronic medium to complete an assignment, have class discussions or writing assignments that include diverse perspective, and have serious conversations in their courses with other students who are very different from them in terms of their race, religious beliefs, political opinions, or personal values;   ( 3) their courses emphasized memorization skills;   (4) BGSU emphasizes quite a bit or very much requiring students to spend significant amounts of time studying and on academic work;   and (5) the relationships between students at BGSU were very friendly and supportive. 

A review of the percentages of undergraduate students who reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with various aspects of the university environment in the Student Opinion Survey, which was administered in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 reveals that the majority of students are satisfied with 20 of the 24 items listed, and that student's satisfaction with the course content in their major fields, security and safety on campus, opportunities for personal involvement in campus activities, availability of student housing, racial harmony at BGSU, and concern for them as an individual has increased steadily through out the survey years. 

A report of the perceptions and activities of BGSU graduating seniors shows that the majority of respondents agree or strongly agree with 17 of the 19 statements concerning their experiences at BGSU.  Nearly 90% or more of the graduating seniors indicated that they have participated in class discussions, developed close personal relationships with other students, feel that faculty are friendly and helpful, and have met with faculty outside of class to discuss their studies.  

Nearly all respondents to the BGSU alumni questionnaires report that they are employed, and most are in a job related to their majors. Most alumni questionnaire respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the job preparation and preparation for additional college work that they received from BGSU. 

The percentages of main campus freshmen participating in learning communities, first year programs, or some other type of enhanced educational activity that is tracked by the Office of Institutional Research have increased steadily since Fall 1997. With the implementation of some new activities and the expansion of others the percentage of freshmen now participating in some type of enhanced experience now stands at 99%.

The number of main campus undergraduates participating in cooperative education and internships has varied through out  the years, but decreased since 2007-2008; the 2009-2010 number represents less than 8% of main campus undergraduates.

The number of main campus undergraduates participating in the University's education abroad program in recent years has slightly decreased from its peak years of  2004-2008; the 2009-2010 number represents less than 3% of main campus undergraduates.

The Ohio Board of Regents Performance Report provides information on the number of main campus freshmen who enrolled in remedial courses.  In 2009-2010, 9% of BGSU freshmen enrolled in remedial Mathematics; 18% enrolled in remedial English; 3% enrolled in both; and 24% enrolled in one of the two. Students who did not complete the high school college preparatory core curriculum were more likely to enroll in remedial courses.

The main campus one-year freshman retention rate ranged between 79.1% and 73.3% during 2000 and 2010. Our rates in most of the past ten years are higher than the retention rates for other moderately selective universities that participate in the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange, but lower than the one-year retention rate for a group of peer universities for BGSU approved by the Ohio Board of Regents as well as Kent State University, Miami University, and Ohio University.

The main campus four-year and six-year freshmen graduation rates have remained stable over the years, and both are higher than for other moderately selective universities that participate in the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange. They are higher in one year but lower in another than the four-year graduation rates and  the six-year graduation rates for a group of peer universities for BGSU approved by the Ohio Board of Regents as well as Kent State University, Miami University, and Ohio University. The actual six-year graduation rate has consistently been higher than predicted by the U. S. News America’s Best Colleges publication.

Indicators of Environment for Student Learning, Development, and Success

The percentage of BG campus undergraduate classes beginning at 4:30 p.m. or after has exceeded 15% over the last couple years. Student credit hours offered via distance learning at the BG campus have increased steadily since Fall 2007.

The results of the National Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity reveal that the percentages of main campus lower division student credit hours, undergraduate credit hours, and lower division class sections taught by full-time faculty (both tenured/tenure-track faculty and non-tenure-track faculty) have remained stable in the past several years.

Achievements and Improvement Initiatives

BGSU received the 2007 Council on Higher Education Accreditation award for institutional progress in student learning outcomes.

University learning outcomes along with rubrics have been developed and disseminated.

First year residential communities (e.g., the Chapman and Health Science Residential communities), course-based programs for new students (e. g., Springboard, UNIV 100, UNIV 131), and other efforts (e.g., AIMS, Honors, Literacy Serve and Learn, Multicultural and Academic Initiatives, Partners in Context and Community, President’s Leadership Academy, and the University Program for Academic Success) have been established and demonstrate success in improving student retention and grades in many instances.

A report of BGSU’s progress in the area of assessment of student learning is included in a section of the Higher Learning Commission accreditation self-study. Updated information, including assessment reports from various programs, University learning outcomes and rubrics, and BGSU’s involvement with electronic student learning portfolios is available here . The Higher Learning Commission consultant-evaluators team, after their March 2003 visit to BGSU, recognized and commended the accomplishments in assessment found at BGSU. However, in evaluating the matrix of assessment characteristics, the team found that “the institution is in the “progress” level of implementing assessment programs across the institution. There is still a considerable lack of understanding and reluctance regarding assessment in some program areas.” A progress report must be filed with the Higher Learning Commission in March 2006 to indicate progress towards a more mature assessment program. The report “should document that departments and programs have identified the following: measurable student outcomes, direct measures of these outcomes, results of assessing these outcomes, and influences of the assessment results on curriculum and pedagogy.

BGSU's general education program, now re-titled the BG Perspective , has been redesigned to emphasize development of the University Learning Outcomes, to expose students to modes of inquiry from across diverse disciplines, todevelop multiple literacies, to enhance access to smaller classes and full-time faculty, and to imbed assessment as an integral component of the program.

The number of student organizations, which provide enhanced student involvement opportunities, has risen to over 300.

BGSU has received approval from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools to offer degree programs via distance learning technologies.