As institutions gear up for their NSSE administration, schools are exploring a variety of ways to increase student participation in the survey. While many schools are tailoring their recruitment messages, deploying incentives, or using their Learning Management Systems (LMS) for more customized invitations, which have been found to be effective in boosting survey response, an additional recruitment strategy schools can pursue that is not cost-restrictive is to involve faculty and staff on their campuses.
Plainly, the more institutions tailor their NSSE recruitment for their specific campus, the more likely students are to respond. Students generally want to believe that their voice matters and that their feedback will be used to improve their college or university. Therefore, it is important to widely share with students that NSSE is a legitimate, institutionally supported survey activity, and that the institution is eager for students’ input. Expressing appreciation for students' participation in NSSE and describing how the institution has used and plans to use NSSE data also helps. Faculty and staff can help convey these messages to students.
One example of how to involve faculty in a successful NSSE administration comes from Indiana State University. They sent emails to their faculty and staff at the start of their administration to inform them of the purpose of NSSE and how they planned to use the results to improve student engagement on campus (Kinzie, 2006). Faculty teaching first-year or senior-level courses can be provided a short script to announce that NSSE is in the field with a simple message like:
“Seniors: You’ll soon get an invitation to respond to a national survey, NSSE, that asks you about the quality of your experience here. We’re interested in what you have to say and will use what we learn to improve. I hope you’ll respond.”
Students may feel more inclined to want to participate, knowing that their favorite professors endorse the survey. Although faculty and staff cannot coerce students into completing the survey or offer incentives such as extra credit without getting that approved through NSSE IRB, they can certainly impress upon students the importance of completing the survey and how that will impact the campus and benefit the students in the short-term and long-term.
Faculty have several avenues available to them to advertise NSSE from making announcements at the beginning/end of class that NSSE is being administered this semester, or even potentially ending class a little early to give students time to complete the survey, should they choose to. Is there a popular professor on campus? Perhaps consider featuring them on your campus’s Instagram or Tik Tok channels to promote NSSE. Faculty and staff can also share NSSE advertisements through their listservs, newsletters, or social media. This can be especially useful in reaching students of certain demographics or populations. For example, if an institution wishes to boost participation among LGBTQ+ students, they can share the flyer or advertisement with the campus LGBTQ+ Center or student organization to share with their members. Given that there is power in community, students may feel more inclined to participate in NSSE, knowing that their friends and fellow community members are also participating.
Another approach to involving more faculty and staff in the NSSE administration is to adopt a committee approach like at the University of Missouri. Members of Mizzou’s NSSE Committee conducted a “NSSE Campus Tour”, meeting with advisors, undergraduate deans, social justice centers, and any other campus groups that regularly interact with students. The committee made presentations about the value of NSSE data, explaining how and why NSSE is important and how each group can use NSSE results. They also discussed methods to increase response rates of response to the survey. Read more about their work in Lessons from the Field Dispatch #1.
At the end of the day, we encourage colleges and universities to do what makes sense for their institution. Ultimately, a feeling of connection is a strong indicator for participation. Engaging faculty and staff in specific and intentional ways can help in expanding the network of students reached.
Do you have other creative ways of involving faculty in NSSE recruitment on your campus? Email us to let us know! We would love to hear about what has been successful for you.
Kinzie, J. (2006). Increasing student participation in NSSE: Two success stories. Assessment Update, 18(2), 4–6.