Data User's Guide

Overcoming Potential Obstacles to Using FSSE Results Effectively

Converting assessment information into action is a challenge for all colleges and universities. Below, we provide ways to address some of the more common obstacles.
ObstacleApproach
Small number of respondents

Check your Respondent Profile report to compare the representation of the sample to your campus population. Review the sampling error. In future administrations, consider ways to increase the number of respondents and promote survey participation in new ways.

Questions about validity and reliability

The validity of self-reported data can be affected by the ability of respondents to provide accurate and truthful information in response to questions. Research shows that people generally tend to respond accurately on questions about their past behavior unless the questions are sensitive or make them uncomfortable. Further research suggests that self-reported data are valid under five conditions, all of which FSSE was designed to satisfy:

  1. The requested information is known to respondents
  2. The questions are phrased clearly and unambiguously
  3. The questions refer to recent activities
  4. The respondents take the questions seriously
  5. The questions do not threaten, embarrass, or violate respondents’ privacy
Limited capacity to analyze and report results

The reports that FSSE sends institutions can be quickly packaged and sent to faculty and staff with little work. All data files, reports, and supporting documents related to FSSE Institutional Reports are available in electronic format, which allows for easier print or electronic distribution.

Lack of faculty awareness of or interest in learning about and using student engagement results Consider administering FSSE as a way to look at student engagement from the faculty perspective. Results may be useful for discussions at a retreat or workshop. Also, make available a summary of the literature on the value of effective educational practices.

FSSE Data User's Guide Worksheets

 This one-page worksheet offers four reflective prompts essential to initiating and focusing FSSE data use.  Guiding Questions
Determine whether respondents to FSSE are representative of your faculty, then think about how to address any lack of representativeness. Administration and Respondent Details
Examine your assumptions about your faculty’s practices and expectations by selecting a theme, predicting your results, and comparing predictions to actual data. Frequencies for Selected Items
Consider and discuss how faculty encourage high-impact practices with students on your campus. High-Impact Practices
Review and discuss how faculty and students responded to similar items from FSSE and NSSE respectively. Adding Context to NSSE with FSSE
Facilitate conversations around how promotion of engagement occurs within disciplinary areas. Disciplinary Engagement
Review FSSE data in comparison with your campus strategic goals and initiatives. FSSE and Campus Strategic Goals

Evidence-Based Improvement in Higher Education

Center for Postsecondary Research
Indiana University
School of Education
201 N. Rose Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-1006
Phone: 812.856.5824
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