Students rate Brescia as a highly engaging educational environment

December 16, 2009

Students say that Brescia University College continues to improve the quality of education offered by Canada’s premier women’s university.

Both first-year and senior-year students at Brescia responded to the 2009 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which revealed that Brescia is scoring well above comparable universities and women’s colleges in the following areas measured: classroom work; relationships with faculty and staff; in-depth writing assignments; class preparation; and participation in community service.

Eighty-eight per cent of students reported that they would choose Brescia again if they could start their university career over, and 83 per cent of first-year students feel that Brescia has a substantial commitment to their academic success.

One of the principal goals of the annual NSSE survey is to provide diagnostic, comparative information about effective educational practices at participating colleges and universities so that they can improve undergraduate education. To represent the multi-dimensional nature of student engagement, NSSE developed five indicators of effective educational practice:

  • Level of academic challenge
  • Active and collaborative learning
  • Student-faculty interaction
  • Enriching educational experiences
  • Supportive campus environment

Brescia scored higher in 2009 than in 2007 in four of the five areas, and remained steady in the “enriching educational experiences” category, with a greater number of senior students taking advantage of complementary learning opportunities than their younger counterparts. Marianne Simm, Registrar, is not surprised to learn that Brescia scored more favourably among senior students than first-year students. “Our faculty members work with students and encourage them throughout their career at Brescia, building relationships, mentoring, and creating opportunities for participation within the classroom. These experiences may not be fully developed in first year.”

Dr. Colleen Hanycz, Principal, is pleased with the results of the survey and is committed to having students at the planning table, which has always been the case at Brescia. “I’m very pleased to learn that our students are telling us that we’re doing a good job, and that they have provided direction so that we can improve in some areas that will enrich their experience here. The NSSE results provide useful input from those we are here to serve: students. A high level of engagement will always be a priority at Brescia, in and out of the classroom. To that end, faculty and staff members are analyzing and interpreting the NSSE results and we will consider them in planning for the future.” At Brescia providing an engaging learning environment means living its brand attributes – compassionate, student-centred, invigorating, and empowering. Acting Academic Dean Anne Barnfield explains that the attributes are interrelated in the work of the faculty members. “For example, being student-centred includes being compassionate. As Acting Academic Dean I have to deal with situations where a student needs accommodation for academic work because of genuine difficulties in her life. We are much better able to cope with such situations at Brescia, and I have recently had students thank me for helping them in this way at difficult times for them. By giving someone an opportunity to show her true worth, we empower that student.”

Barnfield says that students often don’t fully realize the quality of life and learning and the opportunities afforded by Brescia until later in their university careers or even after they have left. “Our supportive environment and active and collaborative learning show students how to be leaders and give them opportunities to put that learning into practice. Being bold and being a leader come in many forms and through many ways, and more of these are open to a student at Brescia than in other, larger, institutions.”

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For more information please contact:

Dr. Anne Barnfield   Acting Academic Dean   Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28363   E-mail:

Marianne Simm   Registrar   Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28266   E-mail:

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit