For the fourth year in a row, Dordt University has been named the number one college in the nation for student engagement, according to The Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education’s 2020 college rankings.
“Student engagement is at the heart of higher education – so to be named a university that performs well on this essential measure, and to have done so for four years now, is gratifying and a tribute to Dordt’s faculty, staff, and students,” says Dr. Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt University.
According to The Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education rankings, decades of research has found that the best way to truly understand teaching quality at an institution – how well it manages to inform, inspire and challenge students – is through capturing what is known as “student engagement."
The Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education’s engagement category examines answers to four key questions:
- To what extent does the teaching apply student learning to the real world?
- Do the classes at Dordt challenge students?
- Are students engaged in critical thinking and learning?
- To what extent does the teaching support reflection on, or making connections among, the things the student has learned?
To determine if the college effectively engages with its students, the rankings consider the number of accredited programs offered at Dordt, the level of student engagement, the opportunities for professors and students to interact, and whether students would recommend Dordt to a friend.
The overall rankings are based on four pillars that emphasize key areas in teaching excellence: resources, environment, outputs, and engagement. The rankings examined data from a variety of sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the U.S. government, the College Scorecard, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). They also considered more than 170,000 student survey responses from surveys such as the Times Higher Education U.S. Student Survey.
Dr. Teresa Ter Haar, a theatre professor at Dordt, says that Dordt’s mission is all about relationship.
“We want students not just to learn a subject matter, but to develop deep relationships with others in the learning community and, most significantly, with the Lord,” says Ter Haar. “Relationships demand a give and take – and this directly affects the way students engage with each other, faculty, administrators, and their coursework.”
Looking back at his first three years at Dordt, Joseph Bartels, a senior worship arts major at Dordt, appreciates how his professors challenged him academically and spiritually.
“My classes have been demanding but also encouraging, and I had opportunities to connect with my professors one-on-one to talk about course material, questions about their areas of expertise, or simply about life,” says Bartels.
Dr. Eric Forseth, provost at Dordt University, agrees that faculty are a key component to student engagement at Dordt.
“Faculty and staff at Dordt University are committed to shaping students’ curricular and co-curricular experiences from a Christian perspective,” says Forseth. “They embrace Dordt’s mission of striving for Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of life.”
To Hoekstra, what student engagement comes down to is faith formation.
“I believe that the core of ‘student engagement’ on Dordt’s campus is our common confession of the Lordship of Jesus Christ—in whom all things hold together,” says Hoekstra. “Our entire educational venture finds direction and meaning because of the reality of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection—and it’s that reality which motivates our students to understand and develop their gifts to be effective kingdom citizens.”
As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Dordt, located in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a comprehensive college named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review. To learn more, visit dordt.edu.