In order to learn, students must be challenged. By asking questions like how much time they spend preparing for classes, how often they are required to complete writing assignments, and whether or not they have had to work harder than they expected to meet a professor's expectations, the survey data show that Hampden-Sydney College students rate the academic challenge they experience higher than do students at similar colleges and considerably higher than all of the participants in the survey.
NSSE Academic Challenge 2011

Summary:  Hampden-Sydney students, first-year as well as seniors, rate the academic challenge they experience more highly than do those students from other baccalaureate-granting arts and sciences schools and considerably more than students from the entire population of NSSE respondent schools.

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Level of Academic Challenge questions

NSSE questions that address the Level of Academic Challenge (LAC) include the following:

  • Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, rehearsing, etc. related to academic program).
  • Number of assigned textbooks, books, or book-length packs of course readings.
  • Number of written papers or reports of 20 pages or more, number of written papers or reports between 5 and 19 pages, and number of written papers or reports of fewer than 5 pages.
  • Coursework emphasizing analysis of the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory.
  • Coursework emphasizing synthesis and organizing of ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships.
  • Coursework emphasizing the making of judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods.
  • Coursework emphasizing application of theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations.
  • Working harder than you thought you could to meet an instructor's standards or expectations.
  • Campus environment emphasizing time studying and on academic work.