A research project of the NSSE Institute funded by the Spencer Foundation
Despite longstanding calls for higher education to embrace assessment and use assessment results to inform educational improvement, relatively little is known about evidence-based improvement in colleges and universities. How do these institutions use assessment data to identify problems, formulate improvement strategies, engage important stakeholders in the enterprise, and implement positive change? Using multi-year data from the National Survey of Student
The study uses a mixed-methods approach. First, quantitative analyses will identify institutions with multi-year NSSE results showing statistically significant improvement over time on a range of student engagement measures. Second, qualitative case study methods will be used to examine these institutions in-depth and document: (a) how assessment results were used; (b) how the organizational structure, leadership team, and faculty and staff supported the improvement project; and (c) how campuses enacted change.
By describing improvement processes and identifying supporting and inhibiting factors, the study will document promising practices to foster educational reform in higher education. Lessons about "what works" in institutional change and on the development of a culture of institutional improvement will contribute to the literature and current discussions about educational reform.