The concept of student engagement is accessible, understandable, and congenial with the language of teaching and learning.

A color PDF version of the report is now available for download.
The NSSE database now includes information from institutions that represent more than half (52 percent) of all undergraduates attending four-year colleges and universities. Our original goal was to enroll 250 schools per year. With 276 schools in 2000, 321 schools in 2001, and 366 schools participating in the 2002 national program, we’ve substantially exceeded the planned workscope. As I write, over 400 institutions are registered for 2003.

Four factors contribute to NSSE’s success. First, the demand for meaningful and usable assessment data continues unabated. Most schools recognize the need for information that can help improve student and institutional performance and also responds to external demands for evidence of student learning.

Second, a superb crew at the Indiana University Center for Survey Research administers NSSE using state-of-the-art professional survey methods. Because the NSSE survey process is customized to a degree for each school, it’s the equivalent of annually sending out 300-plus different surveys to random samples of undergraduates.

Third, participating institutions give us high marks for the quality of reader-friendly NSSE reports and other products. The highly skilled, productive NSSE staff prepares and presents student engagement results in multiple formats so that faculty members, administrators, and others with different levels of understanding of assessment and institutional improvement approaches can meaningfully interpret and use their findings. In addition, we continually seek and incorporate suggestions for improving our processes and materials.

Finally, schools are profitably using their results. In large part this is because the survey questions have compelling face validity with different groups, tapping many of the behaviors faculty members and others know are important to student learning. Moreover, virtually all the NSSE items represent activities that research studies show are linked to desired outcomes of college. These factors, along with an increasingly inquisitive public searching for good information about colleges, make NSSE the right tool for the times.

NSSE is only one source of information about the student experience. Among its virtues is that NSSE is a window into areas of student and institutional performance that virtually all colleges and universities espouse to be important, but about which few have solid information. The concept of student engagement is accessible, understandable, and congenial with the language of teaching and learning. Moreover, NSSE results point to aspects of student and institutional performance where improvement is both desirable and possible, be it persistence, success in major field courses, and so on.

We’re proud to be a part of a growing national movement to re-focus talk and action on key aspects of the undergraduate experience that really matter to collegiate quality. Along with our partners in this worthwhile endeavor, we welcome your participation, support, and suggestions for strengthening institutional responsibility for student learning.



George D. Kuh
Chancellor’s Professor of
Higher Education
Indiana University Bloomington