Topical Modules

Academic Advising

This module, updated for NSSE 2020, examines students' experiences with academic advising, including frequency of interaction with advisors and advising practices that reflect NACADA core values. It also asks students to identify who has been most helpful. The module complements a question on the core survey about the quality of students' interactions with academic advisors.  

Items Survey 

Career & Workforce Preparation (NEW)

This module represents a collaboration between NSSE and Strada Education Network to assess how the college experience prepares students for their future. Questions address institutional contributions to students’ career plans, influences on their goals, confidence in work-related skills, career exploration in the curriculum, and use of career resources and services.


Civic Engagement

Adapted from a pilot survey developed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, this module asks students to assess their conflict resolution skills, and examines perceptions of support for activism and how often students have engaged with campus, local, state, national, or global issues. The module complements questions on the core survey about service-learning, community service or volunteer work, and becoming an informed and active citizen.

Items Survey 

Coping with COVID (NEW)

This module, created specifically for the 2021 administration, explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ educational experiences, mental wellness, and everyday life experiences. Perceptions of faculty and institutional responses, disruptions to educational plans, living situation details, stressors and negative emotional experiences, and changes in leisure activities and time demands are addressed.


Development of Transferable Skills (UPDATED)

Adapted from a pilot survey that was developed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, this module examines activities that develop useful and transferable skills for the workplace and beyond (such as verbal and written fluency, critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, project management, and time management). The module complements questions on the core survey about higher-order learning, reflective and integrative learning, and students' perceptions of their development in a variety of areas.

Items  Survey 

Experiences with Online Learning (NEW)

This module, new for the 2021 administration, was developed in collaboration with Quality Matters, a leader in online instruction. Based in part on Standards for the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric (6th Ed.), the item set measures instructional aspects that experts consider to be ideal for online courses. The set also assesses how students engage in both online and hybrid courses, their degree of comfort with online learning and experience of support, and ideas about how the learning experience can be improved.


Experiences with Writing

This module is the result of an ongoing collaboration between NSSE and the Council of Writing Program Administrators. The questions touch on three aspects of good writing assignments—interactivity, meaning-making, and clarity. It complements questions on the core survey about how much writing students do, the nature of their course assignments, and perceived gains in written expression.

 Items Survey 

First-Year Experiences and Senior Transitions

This module includes a set of items only for first-year students and a set only for seniors (based on institution-reported class level), with questions adapted from the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement and the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (with partial support from the National Endowment for the Arts), respectively. The first-year items focus on academic perseverance, help-seeking behaviors, and institutional commitment, while the senior items explore post-graduation plans, links between the academic major and future plans, and confidence in skill development.

Items Survey

Global Learning

NSSE's Global Learning module assesses student experiences and coursework that emphasize global affairs, world cultures, nationalities, religions, and other international topics. The module complements items on the core NSSE questionnaire about student experiences with people from different backgrounds, course emphasis on integrative and reflective learning, and participation in study abroad. It is designed to complement the American Council on Education's 2016 edition of the Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey.

Items   Survey

Inclusiveness and Engagement with Cultural Diversity

This module examines environments, processes, and activities that reflect the engagement and validation of cultural diversity and promote greater understanding of societal differences. Questions explore students’ exposure to inclusive teaching practices and intercultural learning; perceptions of institutional values and commitment regarding diversity; and participation in diversity-related programming and coursework. The module replaces the former Experiences with Diverse Perspectives module.

 Items Survey

Retired Topical Modules

Topical Modules address current issues related to student engagement and quality of the undergraduate experience. Modules are occasionally retired to accommodate new or related topics and maintain sufficient institutional participation numbers.

  • Learning with Technology
    (Available 2013—2020)
  • Experiences with Diverse Perspectives
    (Available 2013—2016; Replaced by Inclusiveness and Engagement with Cultural Diversity)
  • Global Perspectives—Cognitive and Social (Available 2013—2015; Replaced by Global Learning)

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