Student Engagement

Pillar Three: Student Engagement

Background

Student EngagementStudents at San José State engage the campus community in a variety of ways. Some work in close collaboration with faculty members on research in laboratories or in the community; others connect through a common interest in one of the more than 500 student organizations; still, others are active in athletics, including Division-I, club sports and intramural. Resources include identity-based centers such as the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, the PRIDE Center, the Gender Equity Center, Military and Veteran Student Services, to name a few; recreation and wellness opportunities, access to Career Center Services and University Library programming. Through these interactions, students form relationships with friends, mentors and advisors that will benefit them during their time at SJSU and beyond. Without these connections to the campus, many students would lack the support system they need to be successful.

CommUniverCity is a leading example of a program that provides curricular-embedded opportunities for students to engage in more than 50 community projects in underserved communities surrounding the university in partnership with the City of San José. Students and faculty members from every college are involved in interdisciplinary projects that range from establishing community gardens to STEM education for K-12 students to supporting small business owners with marketing plans.

A key pillar of student success identified by students, staff, faculty and administrators includes improving student engagement at SJSU. While the majority of respondents to the 2015 Campus Climate Survey reported that SJSU has a welcoming environment, some students, staff, faculty and administrators still reported experiencing discrimination on campus. This was especially true for some URM groups as well as those who identified as LGBTQI. Some students also noted that they feel unsafe on campus despite relatively low rates of crime as reported in the 2015 Annual Safety Report. In addition, faculty research from the “Why Students Leave” report found that one of the top three reasons students listed for leaving SJSU included feeling no connection to the campus.

Solutions

Through discussions with campus stakeholders, improvements to
student engagement have been recommended:

  • Create a safe and welcoming campus environment.
    • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, established in summer 2016, continues to lead Conversations on Campus Climate, and Faculty Fellows have been assigned to the MOSAIC and PRIDE Centers to increase understanding of student needs.
    • The African American Student Success Task Force (Harambee) and the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Force (Adelante) that support URM students have transitioned to permanent programs with base funding in Student Affairs, under the AVP for Transition and Retention Services. A physical home for these success centers will be created.
    • A new center in support of Immigrant and Undocumented students will be created.
    • UPD will continue to communicate about the resources they offer to campus such as the UPD Safety Escort, Spartan Saferide and Rave Guardian, and other safety initiatives.
    • UPD and the University Library will partner with the City of San José to address safety concerns in the library.
    • UPD and Administration and Finance will conduct regular campus safety tours to highlight needed improvements.
  • Evaluate co-curricular programming such as student organizations and clubs, student government and other programs on campus.
    • Increase student participation in co-curricular activities that connect them to campus.
    • Expand co-curricula program opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and international students to work together on research, internships, leadership and volunteer experiences that will help them put into practice the lessons they learn in their classrooms.
  • Increase curricula practices and opportunities that engage students more deeply and connect them to faculty and staff.
    • As part of the Academic Affairs 2014-16 priority, the Educational Excellence and Student Experience team created GE pathways around sustainability, creativity, and globalization to provide a common intellectual experience. Coordinators will develop an assessment program to evaluate each pathway so they can be modified if necessary.
    • Implement a system to track participation in and assess the impact of existing high-impact practices on campus including service learning, capstone projects and global experiences.
    • Expand the programming aimed at providing SJSU faculty with strategies and tools to address the diverse needs of our students.
    • Develop a faculty-in-residence program and other strategies to connect faculty and students together outside of the classroom.
    • Expand Coffee with a Professor to include Lunch with a Professor to support further connection with faculty.

Pillar-Specific Metrics*:

  • Increase the number of students involved in research, internships, leadership or other co-curricular programs; increase GPA and retention rates of those students.
  • Increase the number of students involved in high-impact practices in their classes; increase the GPA and retention rates of those students.
  • Improve perceptions of student engagement and campus climate, as measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and Campus Climate Survey.

 

Resources

Building a welcoming community will require an increase of resources to the campus. This includes support for URM academic success support services. Increases in staff and resources to support curriculum development are needed to expand high-impact practices in the curriculum. Resources are needed to increase the co-curricular opportunities for students including University Library activities, campus programs, clubs and organizations, leadership and research opportunities.

Conclusion

Increasing student opportunities to engage in co-curricular activities and other high-impact practices will enhance students’ connection to campus. High-impact practices have been shown to increase student retention and success.  Associate Vice President for Campus Life Sonja Daniels is leading the Student Engagement pillar.