Project DEEP: Documenting Effective Educational Practice
A time-honored approach to improving productivity is the identification and adaptation of qualities that characterize high-performing organizations. Similarly, any institution of higher education can learn valuable lessons from educationally effective colleges and universities. Toward this end, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) collaborated on Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practice). With support from Lumina Foundation for Education and the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College, this initiative examined the everyday workings of a variety of educationally effective colleges and universities to learn what they do to promote student success. The effort is the first in a series of activities undertaken by the NSSE Institute for Effective Educational Practice to respond to national concerns about improving the quality of undergraduate education.
In Fall 2002, a NSSE Institute research team launched the project by conducting case studies of 20 high-performing colleges and universities, including large, small, urban, and special mission institutions. Schools selected for the study had higher-than-predicted graduation rates and higher than-predicted scores on the five NSSE clusters of effective educational practice: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student interaction with faculty members, enriching educational experiences, and supportive campus environment. Data collection and analysis continued through Spring 2004. Results of the study were disseminated through presentations, workshops, articles, and a book published by Jossey-Bass and AAHE in Spring 2005 entitled, Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter. In addition, NSSE published a series of DEEP Practice Briefs , policy briefs based on in-depth examination of 20 Project DEEP schools that had higher-than-predicted graduation rates and demonstrated through NSSE results that they had effective policies and practices for working with students of different abilities and aspirations. These briefs provide useful suggestions for promoting student success to a wide range of audiences including university administrators and leaders, faculty, students and the general public.