PULLMAN, Wash. — Selected students at Washington State University will take part in a national survey that attempts to measure important factors in quality higher education overlooked by traditional rankings and surveys.

Over the next few months, randomly selected first-year and senior students at WSU and 365 other colleges and universities nationwide will share views about their college experience by completing “The College Student Report 2002”. About 700 students at WSU are expected to receive the survey.

Rankings in magazines rely on facts about students before they enter college, such as test scores or high school class rankings, and institutions’ resources such as the number of computers or faculty.

The questions in this report are focused on what students do with the resources provided by their college and their experiences. Questions include how and where students spend their time, the nature and quality of their interactions with faculty members and peers, and what they gained from classes. Research shows that these activities are directly related to a good education, says Jane Sherman, associate vice provost for academic affairs at WSU.

“If students have a lot of interaction with other students and faculty — if they solve problems, work in groups and develop meaningful knowledge for themselves — they are more successful as students,” she says.

WSU is promoting these types of interactions with programs such as Teniwe, which brings students taking the same classes together in the same living area, according to the 2001 report. Other student-led programs that are helping students perform better academically and graduate include the Freshman Seminar program and learning communities in chemistry, writing, and the Student Advising and Learning Center.

The survey takes students less than 15 minutes to complete. Selected students will receive the survey by mail, including instructions on how to fill out the survey on the Web. The results will be used to help colleges and universities improve undergraduate education by providing information about student engagement in learning and learning outcomes. WSU will receive results of the 2002 survey in the fall.

The Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning at Indiana University developed the report with a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and with co-sponsorship by The Pew Forum on Undergraduate Learning and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

For more information, visit the center’s Web site www.iub.edu/~nsse or contact Fran Hermanson, director of WSU Student Affairs Research, at (509) 335-4531.