Terms of Participation

NSSE Terms of Participation

Institutions that register for NSSE abide by the Institutional Participation Agreement. The agreement outlines important IRB terms for recruiting and protecting study participants, cost information, and NSSE’s commitment to keeping institutional results confidential. Institutions confirm their agreement with these conditions when registering. See below for a copy of the agreement as well as a link to NSSE's IRB approval letter and protocol.

I. Purpose of the NSSE Survey.

a. The National Survey of Student Engagement Participation Agreement ("Agreement") is entered into between The Trustees of Indiana University on behalf of the National Survey of Student Engagement ("NSSE") and Participating Institution.

b. The NSSE Survey is designed to document the extent to which students, faculty, and institutions engage in empirically-proven educational activities and inform programs and practices that foster student engagement. The results of the NSSE Survey will help Participating Institution identify aspects of the undergraduate student experience worthy of attention and discussion.

c. Participating Institution will provide NSSE with student contact information, and NSSE will contact individual students enrolled at Participating Institution to seek their voluntary participation in the NSSE Survey. NSSE will provide Participating Institution with a suite of reports and a data file.

II. NSSE Procedures and Safeguards.

a. NSSE may use aggregated survey data for national and sector reporting purposes and other undergraduate improvement initiatives. NSSE may also make de-identified data available to researchers.

b. NSSE uses public key encryption with an SSL connection to support the secure transmission of data across the Internet. Access by NSSE staff to servers storing institutional data is controlled by user IDs and passwords.

c. NSSE may disclose the name of Participating Institution, but institutionally identifiable NSSE results shall not be made public by NSSE except by mutual agreement between NSSE and Participating Institution, or in accordance with any applicable law, such as the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.

d. NSSE Survey administration protocol is approved by the Indiana University Institutional Review Board (IRB).

III. Participating Institution Procedures and Requirements.

a. Participating Institution shall provide to NSSE a student population data file containing contact information for all baccalaureate-seeking first-year and senior students. Data files must meet NSSE-defined parameters for the target population of eligible students, as specified in the Population File instructions.

b. Participating Institution shall comply with NSSE Survey preparation deadlines, and maintain a minimum of two campus contacts with access to NSSE's Institution Interface. Participating Institution shall promptly inform NSSE when staffing changes necessitate updates to campus contacts.

c. Participating Institution must present the NSSE Survey as a voluntary activity; no coercion can be used to increase participation.

d. Participating Institution shall not mislead students about the extent to which participation is anonymous or confidential.

e. Participating Institution must seek NSSE's approval of all student participation incentives (e.g., lottery drawings and guaranteed prizes) to ensure compliance with IRB requirements.

f. Unless an exception is made by NSSE, Participating Institution shall not exceed seven direct student recruitment messages, which will be sent by either NSSE on Participating Institution's behalf (no more than 5 messages) or the Participating Institution (no more than 3 messages).

IV. Use of Student Data.

a. Participating Institution shall provide NSSE with the following personal information concerning its students, which shall constitute "Participant Information" for purposes of this Agreement:

     i. Required: (1) First and last name (2) ID number (NOT social security number) (3) Mailing address and/or e-mail address (4) Class level (5) Enrollment status (full-time/part-time) (6) Sex (7) First-time, first-year status;

     ii. Optional: (1) ACT/SAT scores (2) Race/ethnicity (3) Other student information chosen by Participating Institution.

b. The use of student data is regulated by the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"), which covers how educational institutions may share student data with outside organizations conducting research and assessment for the purpose of improving instruction.

c. NSSE understands that Participant Information is subject to FERPA and will exercise due care in handling and processing student data. Further, NSSE agrees to:

     i. Limit its use of personally identifiable information to the purposes of conducting studies that (1) improve instruction and student learning in higher education, or (2) evaluate the effectiveness of NSSE Survey methods in order to improve future data collection;

     ii. Only use student contact information for the purpose of inviting students to participate in the NSSE Survey;

     iii. Only provide access to personally identifiable information to Participating Institution as well as representatives of NSSE/Indiana University who have legitimate interests in the information for the purposes described above;

    iv. Destroy personally identifiable information within five years of completion of the NSSE Survey.

d. NSSE may set aside a small fraction of the sample for experimental purposes to improve the NSSE Survey or administration practices (e.g., testing new recruitment methods or survey designs). Impact will be minimized by limiting the selection to no more than 0.3% of the institutional sample or thirty (30) participants, whichever is less.

e. As applicable, NSSE will cooperate with Participating Institution in complying with Canadian or other foreign data privacy laws.


V. NSSE Pricing.

a. Pricing for NSSE is based on the size of total undergraduate enrollment. Additional fees may be assessed for extra item sets added to the survey, or for unexpected costs associated with Participating Institution's errors in survey preparations. Invoices are sent in February after all survey preparations have been completed.

b. Participating Institution shall pay NSSE all applicable fees related to the survey within thirty (30) days of receipt of the survey invoice. Fees shall be charged in accordance with the pricing schedule.

c. Participating Institution agrees to pay any applicable withdrawal fees.

VI. Indiana Access to Public Records. Participating Institution understands and acknowledges that NSSE, an auxiliary unit of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, is subject to Indiana's open records law, the Indiana Access to Public Records Act ("APRA"), Ind. Code §§ 5-14-3-1 to -10, and that compliance with APRA shall not constitute a breach of this Agreement.

VII. Assignment. This Agreement shall not be assignable by either party without the prior written consent of the other party.

VIII. Force Majeure. Neither party shall be responsible or liable to the other party for nonperformance or delay in performance of any terms or conditions of this Agreement due to acts of God, acts of governments, wars, riots, fire, flood, or other causes beyond the reasonable control of the nonperforming or delayed party.

IX. Limitation on Liability. Participating Institution agrees that NSSE, IU, and its trustees, affiliates, employees, agents, and contractors, shall not be liable to Participating Institution for any claims, liabilities, consequential or incidental damages, costs, or expenses relating to this Agreement for an aggregate amount exceeding the fees paid by Participating Institution to NSSE.

X. Entire Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties regarding the subject matter described herein and supersedes any prior negotiations and agreements. This Agreement may not be modified or amended in any respect except by a written agreement executed by both parties. The terms and conditions of this Agreement shall extend to, be binding upon, and inure to the benefit of the heirs, administrators, representatives, executors, successors and assigns of the parties.

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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