Wall Street Journal ranks Auburn sixth nationally for student engagement

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Auburn University students feel at home on the Plains, both socially and academically, and at ease with their professors—making Auburn the sixth-ranked university nationally in terms of engagement.

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings made the announcement this week in its list of Top Schools for Engagement, which measured how well students are connected with their school, each other and the outside world, and how challenging their courses are.

"Engaging students is an important goal in our university strategic plan," said Royrickers Cook, vice president for University Outreach and associate provost. "This Wall Street Journal report is affirmation that Auburn has been effective promoting student civic engagement through a wide range of curricular and public service activities."

In a survey of 100,000 students across the country, with a minimum of 50 students surveyed at ranked universities, they were asked seven questions about engagement. These included how challenging classes are and whether they foster critical thinking and prompt students to make connections to the real world; interaction with faculty; and how likely are they to recommend their school to a friend. The number of subjects offered as degree programs by the school also figured into the engagement score.

Auburn is converting many of its classrooms to Engaged Student Active Learning, or EASL, classrooms, where "active learning" is the method of instruction. Unlike a lecture-style class, active learning encourages student participation in a way that allows them to learn concepts through interaction and collaboration with their peers.

The classrooms include tables where multiple students can sit, glass boards on walls and digital displays. These features allow students to continue collaboration within groups and with the entire class. With this classroom setup, students are inspired to prepare for class by reading materials ahead of time, so they are ready for discussions and presentations during class time.

"The skills the EASL approach cultivates—self-efficacy, practice providing accurate, actionable feedback and effective communication—are directly related to the real-world proficiencies employers seek in their recent-graduate employees," said Diane Boyd, director of Auburn's Biggio Center for Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.

"It's an honor for Auburn students and faculty to be recognized for engagement, which blends our commitment to instructional excellence and our land-grant mission."

Auburn's new 69,000-square-foot Mell Classroom Building, scheduled to open fall 2017, will house 29 active learning classrooms, making it one of the single largest investments in Engaged Active Student Learning in the Southeast.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.