Westmont Magazine Gaining Insight into the Benefits of a Westmont Education
How can Westmont measure the kind of holistic learning that occurs at a liberal arts college? Standardized tests fail to provide this information.
Enter NSSE. The National Survey of Student Engagement evaluates student participation in well-rounded learning practices by collecting data from undergraduate seniors and first-year students. “Standardized tests often attempt to measure what you learn,” says Tim Loomer, director of research and implementation at Westmont. “The NSSE works to measure significant educational experiences in and beyond the classroom demonstrated to support and enhance what students learn.”
The survey allows colleges and universities to compare themselves to similar institutions. According to the 2020 survey, Westmont students experience higher levels of collaborative learning than their peers at other private colleges in the Far West region. They also enjoy greater social involvement and participate in more events.
Westmont scored lower on one engagement indicator: Discussions with Diverse Others. “When reviewing these results, it’s important to remember that Westmont is a Christian institution,” Loomer says. “Most students who attend Westmont embrace Christian faith, which results in our students reporting that they experience lower levels of religious diversity than students at other colleges.”
The survey also asks students about their participation in six high-impact practices: service learning, learning community, research with faculty, internship or field experience, study abroad and a culminating senior experience. Westmont scored higher in every area than the other Far West institutions. In particular, students reported greater engagement in service learning and study abroad programs than an even broader subset of schools.
Overall, Westmont compares favorably with similar schools in the region. The college will continue participating in the survey every three years to measure the experience of its students.