Undergraduate students at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) outrank their Canadian peers when it comes to markers like collaborative learning and quality of interactions, according to recent results from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

The NSSE results ranked undergraduate students at UNB’s Fredericton campus among the top ten per cent of all institutions in North America in terms of engaging with fellow students and collaborative learning. At the Saint John campus, UNB students excelled on the NSSE Engagement Indicator “Quality of Interactions,” with an average score significantly higher than their Canadian peers for the quality of their interactions with fellow students, faculty, staff and advisors.

The collaborative learning indicator measures abilities to work with others in mastering difficult material and developing interpersonal and social skills – preparing students to deal with complex, unscripted problems they will encounter during and after university. UNB students’ average score was statistically significantly higher than three different groupings of Canadian peers – other universities in Atlantic Canada, comprehensive universities in Canada and all participating universities in Canada.

UNB fosters opportunities for collaborative learning amongst students in a variety of ways including Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) programs in selected science and engineering courses, peer mentorship programs in most academic programs, and group study spaces in libraries and other academic buildings.

More than 75 per cent of first-year and 80 per cent of senior-year students rated their overall experience as “Excellent” or “Good.” Over 80 per cent of first-year and 70 per cent of senior-year undergrads reported that if they could start over again they would “definitely” or “probably” attend UNB.

Students’ perceptions of their cognitive and affective development provide useful evidence of their educational experiences. Senior-year students reported how much their experience at UNB contributed “very much” or “quite a bit” to their knowledge, skills and personal development in several areas:

Fredericton campus

  • Thinking critically & analytically – 87%
  • Working effectively with others – 78%
  • Writing clearly & effectively – 74%
  • Speaking clearly & effectively – 71%
  • Analyzing numerical & statistical information – 66%

Saint John campus

  • Thinking critically & analytically – 87%
  • Writing clearly & effectively – 74%
  • Working effectively with others – 71%
  • Speaking clearly & effectively – 66%
  • Understanding people of other backgrounds – 63%

For UNB president Dr. Eddy Campbell, the survey results speak to UNB’s strengths. “The University of New Brunswick prides itself on being a caring university,” Dr. Campbell said. “A safe and supportive learning environment where students have an opportunity to have an engaged relationship with faculty and their fellow students.”

About the Survey

The National Survey of Student Engagement is administered by Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research. NSSE annually collects information at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities across North America about first-year and senior-year students’ participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development.

In 2015, 587 North American colleges and universities and 323,801 students participated in NSSE. Over 1,600 colleges and universities and approximately five million students have participated since 2000.

All UNB Fredericton and Saint John first-year and senior-year degree-seeking undergraduate students were invited by e-mail to participate online in NSSE in the early spring of 2015. The response rate in the survey was 44 per cent for first-year students in Fredericton, for a sampling error of ± 2.7 per cent. In Saint John 32% of first-year students responded, for a sampling error of ± 5.0%. UNBF senior-year undergrads had a response rate of 39 per cent, for a sampling error of ± 3.3 per cent. UNBSJ senior-year undergrads had a response rate of 32%, for a sampling error of ± 8.1%. On the Fredericton campus the NSSE survey is managed (and the results analyzed) by the UNB Centre for Enhanced Teaching & Learning (CETL). CETL also assists in the analysis of the Saint John NSSE results.

CETL contact (survey results): David Kilfoil, Educational Analyst, 506-458-7044, dkilfoil@unb.ca

Media contact: Hannah Classen, Communications Officer, University of New Brunswick