NSSE Reports on the Quality of Students' College Experience
Since the survey’s inaugural launch in spring 2000, approximately 1.5 million students enrolled at more than 1,500 colleges and universities have completed the survey
Each year the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, pronounced “nessie”) collects information directly from students at hundreds of colleges and universities. Responses to the survey provide valuable information about the extent to which students are engaged in practices known to promote student learning. NSSE was selected as one data resource for the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) because its results relate to core elements of educational quality and its uniform data collection procedures encourages confidence in results, enabling comparisons across institutions.
"NSSE is an institution's most trustworthy lens for seeing deeply
into the quality of students experiences."
- Lee Shulman, Former President,
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
The breadth of institutions participating in NSSE permits colleges and universities to benchmark themselves against groups of institutions that share similar missions and characteristics.
NSSE Surveys First-Year and Senior Students Each Spring
Each spring NSSE surveys first-year and senior students* at participating colleges and universities on a range of topics, such as classroom experiences, level of interaction with peers and faculty, the nature of coursework, and self-assessment of their educational development. An extensive research literature relates these topics, particular classroom activities and specific faculty and peer practices, to high-quality undergraduate student outcomes. For example:
- level of challenge and time on task are positively related to persistence and success
- the degree to which students are engaged in their studies impacts directly on the quality of their learning and overall educational experience.
Measures of student engagement can serve as proxies for educational quality. The strength or need for improvement in specific educational practices revealed by NSSE results can highlight areas upon which individual institutions should focus attention. NSSE results are intended to be used diagnostically so institutions know where to profitably focus improvements on teaching and learning. Institutions translate NSSE findings into initiatives attuned with their unique campus culture, affecting improvements in general education, student services, academic programs, and beyond.
*In 2010, NSSE shifted to a census administration of first-year students and seniors at most participating institutions. Prior to this, random samples of students were surveyed.