University Surveys

Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE, "Bessie") - Summer  2007

Overview of Western's Summer 2007 BCSSE Results

Incoming freshmen were asked to complete the BCSSE instrument during their 1-1/2 day SOAR (Summer Orientation Advising and Registration) visit. 1,422 of the 1,957 Fall 2007 new freshmen class (72.7%) participated in the NSSE. Nationwide, almost 70,000 beginning college students enrolled at 127 institutions completed the survey this year.

WIU Fall 2007 Freshmen Characteristics

The transition from high school to college is a challenge for all new students, in part because of the very different environments they have experienced.

  • Most WIU freshmen attended public high schools, and this percentage has been increasing.

  2005 2006 2007
WIU freshmen from public high schools 87.1% 88.1% 89.2%

  • A large percentage of WIU freshmen are first-generation college students, although this level has dropped below 50%.

  2005 2006 2007
WIU freshmen 1st generation college students 54.1% 46.0% 46.1%

WIU Freshmen High School Coursework

Completing a rigorous, challenging curriculum has been linked to higher first-year college grades and improved chances for college graduation.

  • WIU freshmen are increasingly prepared for college-level academic work with the numbers taking 4 years of high school English/literature, math, science, and history/social sciences increasing. Only the level of foreign language preparation has decreased.

  2005 2006 2007
Years of HS English/Literature
3.94 3.96 4.02
Years of HS Math
3.64 3.65 3.67
Years of HS Science
3.40 3.40 3.42
Years of HS History/Social Sciences
3.22 3.23 3.33
Years of HS Foreign Language
2.48 2.51 2.37

WIU Freshmen High School Academic Involvement

Students start colleges with habits they developed in high school or even before. Thus, these early habits are an indicator of what can be expected in college.

  • WIU freshmen were reasonably well engaged in active learning during high school. While 2006 high school seniors were considerably more engaged that 2005 high school seniors, the positive attributes declined among the 2007 new freshman class. However, based on high school behaviors, our 2007 freshman class is much less likely to come to class without completing readings or assignments.

1=never, 2=sometimes, 3=often, 4=very often
2005 2006 2007
Asked questions in class or contributed to class discussions
3.01
3.01
3.05
Discussed grades or assignments with a teacher
2.13
2.82
2.64
Worked with other students on projects during class
2.11
2.93
2.87
Worked with classmates outside of class to prepare assignments
1.95
2.47
2.18
Prepared 2 or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in
1.99
2.57
2.45
Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with teachers outside of class
1.82 2.19 1.92
Discussed ideas from your readings or classes with others (students, family members, etc.)
1.94 2.43 2.29
Came to class without completing readings or assignments
1.91 2.03 1.79

WIU Freshmen High School Extracurricular Involvement

Participation in extracurricular activities is high school is linked with being engaged in other productive activities and increases the changes that students will be satisfied and stay in school.

  • WIU freshmen were most active in athletics during high school, although the level of athletic participation has continued to decrease. Participation in high school performing or visual arts programs increased among the 2007 freshmen class, while participation in other activities, especially student government.

1=not involved, 6=highly involved
2005 2006 2007
Performing or visual arts programs
2.50
2.50
2.62
Athletic teams
4.19
4.07
3.99
Student government
2.49
2.39
1.67
Publications 1.69
1.69
1.67
Academic honor societies
1.96
1.87
1.83
Academic clubs
1.48
1.46
1.53
Vocational clubs
1.49
1.47
1.57

WIU Freshmen Time Management

That the more time and energy students spend on task, the more they benefit, is a self-evident proposition. However, striking a balance in their activities is of crucial importance.

  • WIU freshmen clearly recognize the greater academic expectations of college compared to high school. They expect to spend about twice as much time studying and other class preparation activities, but much less time working for pay than they did in high school. Although they expect to spend somewhat less time participating in co-curricular activities and in relaxing and socializing than they did in high school, these altered expectations were much less significant.

1=0hr, 2=1-5hrs, 3=6-10hrs, 4=11-15hrs,
5=16-20rs, 6=21-25 hrs, 7=26-30hrs, 8=>30hrs

  2005 2006 2007
Preparing for class
High School 2.75
2.88
2.81

College 4.23
4.60
4.59
Working High School 4.09
4.15
4.13

College 2.41
3.60
3.02
Participating in co-curricular activities
High School 3.89
3.89
3.69

College 3.22
4.54
3.44
Relaxing and socializing
High School 4.40
4.31
4.11
  College 4.26 4.15 3.82

WIU Freshmen Expected Academic Preparation

Students entering college have generally achieve success in high school and beyond. Many, if not most, entered high school with college as a goal, and thus used their high school experience to prepare for college. And while feeling generally well prepared academically, incoming freshmen are confident, but at the same time, somewhat apprehensive, about their ability to succeed in college.

  • WIU freshmen have maintained a fairly consistent self-reported level of academic preparedness of college life, with even slight increases in confidence to succeed. However, the 2007 freshmen class reports a significantly lower level of preparedness in terms of being about to analyze math or quantitative problems. On a positive note, their confidence in their ability to work effectively with others as increased notably, and is the area in which they are most confident.

1=not at all prepared, 6=very prepared
2005 2006 2007
Write clearly and effectively
4.31
4.32
4.37
Speak clearly and effectively
4.39
4.34
4.47
Think critically and analytically
1.38
4.45
4.44
Analyze math or quantitative problems
4.13
4.14
3.77
Use computing and information technology
4.35
4.40
4.43
Work effectively with others
4.69
4.73
4.98
Learn effectively on your own
4.47
4.50
4.69

WIU Freshmen Expected Difficulties

Students enter college aware that they will face challenges in adjusting to collegiate life, but also with expectations for support. Recognizing where students anticipate difficulties and what they value as important, can help direct college programs designed to smooth the transition.

  • WIU freshmen expect to encounter the greatest difficulty in learning to manage their time at college. Also of concern are learning course material and paying for college. The expected difficulties in adapting to the more rigorous college culture has tended to increase since 2005.

1=not at all difficult, 6=very difficult
2005 2006 2007
Learning course material
3.46
3.47
3.92
Managing your time
3.69
3.65
4.12
Paying college expenses
3.50
3.61
3.92
Getting help with school work
2.65
2.78
2.94
Making new friends   2.35
2.13
2.27