## Common Data Recodes, Updated NSSE (since 2013)

### Dichotomize Response Categories

A convenient way to present frequency distributions is to recode response options into simpler categories - usually collapsing them down to just two groups. For example, NSSE items using the "how often" response options-Never, Sometimes, Often, and Very often-can be recoded so that Often and Very often are combined into a single category called "Frequently". Likewise, the "emphasis" response set-Very little, Some, Quite a bit, and Very much-can be recoded so that the top two response options are combined into a category called "Substantial." It may also be preferable to isolate the percentage of students who have "Never" engaged in a particular activity, or who otherwise selected the lowest possible response.

Recoding Response Categories Syntax

### Recoding and Creating New Variables

#### ESTIMATING HOURS PER WEEK AT THE GROUP LEVEL

NSSE asks students to estimate how much time they spent on a variety of activities in a typical 7-day week. The SPSS syntax linked below converts these "time on task" variables to hour-per-week units to make it possible to report the approximate number of hours on a particular activity (e.g., "First-year students spent on average about 13 hours per week preparing for classes."). Response options for these items are 0, 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, and more than 30 hours per week. The SPSS syntax linked below assigns the midpoint value to each response range to estimate the number of hours spent. For example, 1-5 is recoded to 3 hours per week, and 6-10 is recoded to 8 hours per week. "More than 30" is arbitrarily assigned a value of 33 hours per week. Of course, these estimates are not intended to be accurate for an individual student, but they are very informative and useful when aggregating to the group level.

Recoding Hours per Week Syntax

#### ESTIMATING NUMBERS OF PAGES WRITTEN AT THE GROUP LEVEL

NSSE asks students to estimate the number writing assignments of certain lengths they have done during the school year. The SPSS syntax linked below converts these writing items to

- Estimated number of assigned papers written up to 5 pages, between 6 and 10 pages, and 11 or more pages (e.g., "First-year students were assigned an average of 3 writing assignments between 6 and 10 pages.").
- Estimated pages of assigned writing (e.g., "Seniors were assigned an average of 75 pages of writing.").

To estimate the number of pages of assigned writing, the average number of writing assignments of a given page-length was multiplied by an approximate number of pages for the assignment type. The number of pages assigned as the midpoint of the ranges "up to 5" pages is 3 pages, "between 6 and 10" pages is 8 pages, and "11 or more" pages was arbitrarily assigned a value of 15 pages. These numbers of pages assigned midpoints are then multiplied by the response option midpoints then summed together to estimate the number of pages of assigned writing. For example, a student who wrote 11 to 15 papers of up to 5 pages, 3 to 5 papers of between 6 and 10 pages, and 1 to 2 papers of 11 or more pages would have a value of 93.5 for estimated number of assigned writing [(13*3)+(4*8)+(1.5*15)=93.5].

Of course, these estimates are not intended to be accurate for an individual student, but they are very informative and useful when aggregating to the group level.

#### FIRST-GENERATION STATUS

There are several ways to define first-generation status. This SPSS syntax linked below recodes parental education to meet two distinct definitions:

- Highest level of education for either parent is less than a bachelor's degree (parents may have some postsecondary education).
- Highest level of education for either parent is a high school diploma or less (parents have no experience in postsecondary education).

#### NSSE MAJORS, CIP CROSSWALK, AND RELATED SYNTAX

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) was developed by the National Center for Education Statistics to track enrollment and degree completion by field of study. To better understand how NSSE's major fields relate to CIP codes, or to add CIP codes into a NSSE data file, download the zip file below which includes a variable crosswalk (MS Excel) and SPSS syntax.