In addition to the participation of individual institutions, state and multi-campus systems may coordinate system-level participation in NSSE. Institutions sharing a common interest or mission also can coordinate to add questions to the core survey through consortium participation.
Participation benefits include uniform third-party survey administration with several customization options. Deliverables include a student-level data file of all respondents, a comprehensive report package with results for three customizable comparison groups, major field reports, concise summary reports for campus leaders and prospective students, and resources for interpreting results and using them to inform practice.
The Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University’s School of Education administers NSSE, in partnership with the Indiana University Center for Survey Research. Completed in about 15 minutes, the online survey represents a census or a random sample of first-year and senior students. Institutions may append up to two topical modules to the core survey, permitting deeper examination of particular interest areas.
Engagement Indicators (EIs) and measures of participation in High-Impact Practices (HIPs) (pp. 14–15) summarize key facets of student engagement. Visit the NSSE website for summaries of EIs, HIPs, and individual items. The website also provides access to NSSE publications, examples of institutional data use, lists of participating institutions, and much more.
Validity & Reliability
NSSE is continuously and extensively tested to ensure validity and reliability. The Psychometric Portfolio available on the NSSE website provides more information about NSSE data quality
Response Rate & Respondents
The average institutional response rate in 2019 was 28%. The highest response rate among U.S. institutions was 67%, and three out of five institutions achieved a response rate of 25% or higher. Unless otherwise noted, the results in this report are based on 281,136 first-year (46%) and senior (54%) respondents from 491 U.S. colleges and universities.
Use of Student Data
Participating colleges and universities agree that NSSE can use the data for aggregate reporting and other research and improvement initiatives. NSSE may not disclose institutionally identified results without permission. Colleges and universities may use their own data for institutional purposes, including public reporting, which NSSE encourages.
Other Programs & Services
The NSSE Institute offers workshops and webinars, faculty and staff retreats, custom analyses, and consulting. Companion surveys include the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE).
The NSSE website includes a participating institution search, sample reports, examples of NSSE data use, access to summary statistics, archived webinars, a research blog, publications, presentations, and more.