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Ensign College named 2020 NWCCU Beacon Award recipient

Ensign College has been named a recipient of the 2020 Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) Beacon Award for Excellence in Student Achievement and Success, the organization announced Thursday.

College and university award winners are selected because of their ability to demonstrate distinctive, measurable and replicable innovations that have resulted in student achievement and success at the institutional or programmatic level, including innovations in advising and mentoring, alternative credentialing, experiential learning, learning communities or other such efforts.

The award, in the category of an NWCCU institution with less than 2,000 students, is in recognition of Ensign College’s use of Subject Matter Immersion to help further the educational goals of its students.

“It is an honor for Ensign College to be recognized by the NWCCU for our use of Subject Matter Immersion,” Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch said. “Our hope is that as our students learn to fully immerse themselves in their chosen disciplines, they will take responsibility for what they learn, how they learn and demonstrate mastery of subjects.”

This principle-based pattern, championed by President Kusch, changes and transforms everything that happens in the traditional classroom setting. Subject Matter Immersion principles are applied to curriculum design and teaching in every discipline at Ensign College. Teachers no longer solely rely on lectures, PowerPoint presentations, traditional assignments, tests or quizzes. They develop courses differently, using learner-centered strategies, immersive projects and the integration of the College's College-Wide Capabilities—skills identified through employer research as essential to career success.

Student-designed projects and assignments focus on real-life challenges with deliverables identified by students. Individually, and in groups, students explore the questions: How will I reach this outcome? How will we demonstrate mastery? How will the problem be solved? As students build, create and problem solve, there are explicit conversations about learning how to learn, which bring an added awareness to the learning process. There is also an emphasis placed on critical reflection, which leads to transformations and changes within students.

Ensign College received the award following a review from a panel of NWCCU commissioners, staff and representatives from institutions not under consideration.

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