Accreditation Toolkits

Rationale for Using NSSE in Accreditation

In June 2012, the American Council on Education (ACE) National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation released a report urging the higher education community to strengthen and improve the quality and public accountability of the institutional accreditation process.

Assuring Academic Quality in the 21st Century: Self-Regulation in a New Era is designed to spark productive conversations throughout the higher education community to address the challenges of strengthening the system of voluntary self-regulation.

The report describes current approaches to accreditation, addresses criticisms of the process, and offers six recommendations colleges, universities, and regional accrediting bodies can implement to ensure that the accreditation process is a meaningful guarantor of academic quality. The recommendations are:

  1. Increase the transparency of accreditation and clearly communicate its results;
  2. Increase the centrality of evidence about student success and educational quality;
  3. Take prompt, strong, and public action against substandard institutions; and
  4. Adopt a more “risk-sensitive” approach to regional accreditation.
  5. Seek common terminology, promote cooperation, and expand participation.
  6. Enhance the cost-effectiveness of accreditation.

The second recommendation’s emphasis on evidence is particularly noteworthy. In response to the growing demand for public accountability, regional accrediting bodies now consider graduation and retention rates, student experiences and learning outcomes, supportive institutional resources, and placement data to be part of a standard comprehensive review that is made public. However, the report highlights the need to ensure these metrics are explained and qualified within the institution’s unique context so as to present a meaningful interpretation. Moreover, evidence must be sensitive to the institution’s mission and the characteristics of entering students and should reflect the educational benefits the institution seeks to provide. Finally, evidence of educational outcomes must be presented systematically and transparently. View the full report on the ACE website.

www.acenet.edu

NSSE results are meaningful indicators of educational quality and can be used in planning as well as for documenting institutional effectiveness, guiding improvements, and assessing their impact. NSSE data show the levels of engagement of various types of students in effective educational practices during their first and last years of college. Thus, NSSE results are a direct indicator of what students put into their education and an indirect indicator of what they get out of it.

NSSE results help answer key questions related to institutional policies and programs associated with high levels of student engagement and learning. Regional and discipline- or program-specific accreditation standards have tended to encourage institutions to focus on self-evaluation and formative reviews that guide improvement efforts. So, rather than fashion self-studies as a stand-alone document for one-time use, these standards feature more elements of strategic planning and program evaluation that can be used to identify areas in which institutions wish to improve.

NSSE results are especially valuable for this purpose because they are actionable. That is, NSSE data point to aspects of student and institutional performance that institutions can do something about related to the curriculum, pedagogy, instructional emphases, and campus climate. In addition, because NSSE benchmarks allow a school to compare itself to others, the results often point to areas where improvement may be desired.

Specific applications of student engagement information for accreditation range from minimal use, such as including the results in a self-study appendix, to systematically incorporating results over several years to demonstrate the impact of improvement initiatives on student behavior and the efficacy of modifications of policies and practices.

Voluntary accreditation has served higher education extremely well for more than a century. However, the ACE Board of Directors urged the creation of this task force so we could share with the academic community an assessment of the value of voluntary peer review in light of wide-ranging changes in the higher education landscape.

Molly Corbett Broad, twelfth president of the American Council on Education

NSSE as a Tool for Documenting Student Learning Outcomes

Here are several examples of how student engagement information links to accreditation goals related to documenting student learning processes and outcomes:

  • NSSE is a national survey that helps institutions measure their effectiveness in key areas of interest.
  • Used systematically over time, NSSE provides data that illustrate (a) that a college or university is using assessment to determine the extent to which it is meeting its educational objectives; (b) whether current institutional goals remain appropriate; and (c) if various areas of teaching and learning need improvement.
  • Institutions can benchmark their performance against select peer comparison groups, their Carnegie classification category, and NSSE national norms.
  • Information about student engagement and
    institutional effectiveness provides evidence of efforts to meet accrediting standards and continuously improve.
  • NSSE results can yield insights into widely held assumptions about the nature of students and how they use the institution’s resources for learning.
  • Student engagement results are intuitively accessible and understandable by different groups of stakeholders, on and off campus.

This toolkit provides suggestions for incorporating NSSE into regional accreditation processes and products, with an emphasis on mapping student engagement results to regional accreditation standards.

NSSE and Regional Accreditation Timelines

NSSE results can be used in all components of the institutional accreditation process. These include but are not limited to:

(a) the self-study that responds to evaluation criteria established by the accrediting body; 

(b) the visit by the team of peer evaluators who consider additional evidence; and

(c) the response to a decision by an accreditation body requesting an improvement plan or additional evidence of student learning and related areas.

 When and how often to collect and integrate student engagement data in the accreditation process are decisions facing all colleges and universities. The answers will vary, depending on several factors. Some schools want to collect student engagement information to establish a baseline. Ideally, this is done three to five years before preparing the self-study. This way, the institution has enough time to analyze, interpret, and disseminate the results to appropriate audiences, identify areas for improvement, take action in these areas, and administer the survey in subsequent years to demonstrate whether student and institutional performance are moving in the desired direction.

Other institutions will establish different timelines to meet their self-study objectives. For this reason, some schools administer NSSE on an annual or biennial basis. The appropriate NSSE participation cycle for your school depends on how you intend to use your data. Many institutions have found it valuable to have several years of NSSE results to establish a reliable baseline of data. Then, institutions assess their students every few years to allow time for institutional changes to take effect. This planned administration cycle maximizes the use of student engagement data for most accreditation purposes.

A substantial number of schools have gathered student engagement information multiple times, suggesting they may be comparing the results over time to estimate areas in which student performance is changing. It may also indicate that some of these colleges are carefully monitoring trends in student learning processes over time to make certain that institutional performance remains at the desired level. Because legitimate reasons vary for schools using NSSE at different intervals, the best answer to how frequently an institution should obtain student engagement data depends on the needs of a given college or university.

What If Accreditation Is Around the Corner?

For some institutions, a self-study or site visit review may be just a year away. In this case, NSSE can still provide valuable data to schools during even for a single year. Keep in mind that schools must register for NSSE by September, the survey is administered during the spring semester, and results are provided to schools in August.

This timeline offers institutions baseline data to demonstrate educational strengths and weaknesses and results to corroborate institutional evidence. In addition, subsequent NSSE administrations can be used to evaluate institutional improvement efforts outlined in the self-study.

Consideration of the typical NSSE administration timeline - fall registration, spring survey administration, and early fall results - should be taken into account in plans to use NSSE results in accreditation.

Recent Trends in Accreditation

The following trends in accreditation support the use of student engagement results in assessment and institutional improvement initiatives:

Accreditation Tips

Student engagement results provided by NSSE are one direct indicator of what students put into their education and an indirect indicator of what they get out of it.

NSSE items can be used to analyze the resources and appraise the effectiveness of the institution in fulfilling its mission. Two such measures included in the educational gains items are the extent to which students’ experiences at the institution have: 1) contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in acquiring a broad general education; and 2) helped them develop a personal code of values and ethics. The measurement of these experiences could be used to demonstrate achievement of the institution’s mission and goals.

NSSE data are actionable in that they point to aspects of student and institutional performance institutions can address related to the curriculum, pedagogy, instructional emphases, and campus climate. In addition, because NSSE benchmarks allow a school to compare itself to others, the results often point to areas where improvement may be desired.

Share NSSE results widely to expand the audience’s view of the accreditation data. Spend time thinking about with whom you will share specific results from your data. For example, Oregon State University has disseminated its NSSE results to relevant student affairs departments, like housing and academic advising, who in turn can use the data to better understand how their students interact with available services.

The Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) measures faculty expectations of student engagement in educational practices empirically linked with high levels of learning and development. Combined, NSSE and FSSE results can help identify areas of strength as well as aspects of the undergraduate experience that may warrant attention and stimulate discussions on improving teaching, learning, and the quality of students’ educational experience.

Share NSSE results with appropriate campus community members to help sharpen their reports to the accreditation team. For example, distribute NSSE results on the experience of first-generation and commuter students to academic support services and commuter student offices. Data regarding the degree to which students report the institution helps them cope with nonacademic responsibilities and succeed academically and their satisfaction with advising can be used to demonstrate adequate provision of services to meet students’ learning and personal development needs.

NSSE results can help assess the degree to which the institution encourages contact among students from different economic, social, and racial or ethnic backgrounds and the extent to which students report that their experiences at the institution have contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in understanding people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Results also can demonstrate institutional effectiveness in responding to the increasing diversity in society through educational and co-curricular programs.

Mapping NSSE Items to Regional Accreditation Standards and Criteria

A key resource in the NSSE Accreditation Toolkits is the regional accreditation specific discussion of requirements and updates and the tables mapping NSSE items to standards and criteria. 

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. To assist with this connection, a team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

NSSE updates materials to correspond with revised accreditation standards. Specifically, we aligned the HLC toolkit with the HLC New Criteria for Accreditation that went into effect in 2013 for all institutions using both the Standard and Open Pathway options as well as the AQIP process. We also aligned the MSCHE toolkit with the revised standards adopted in 2014, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) toolkit (formerly NEASC) with the standards adopted in 2016, the SACSCOC toolkit corresponds with the 2018 edition of the Principles, and the NWCCU toolkit is updated to align with 2020 revised standards . 

View NSSE item maps to regional accreditation standards by opening specific regional accreditor documents:

Mapping NSSE Items to Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Criteria

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. This document offers guidelines for aligning NSSE survey items with regional accreditation standards.

A team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

This toolkit, including the table on pages 6 and 7, “NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to HLC Criteria and Core Components,” is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence to support specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Specific Core Requirements

HLC has historically offered two programs for the process of reaffirmation of accreditation, the Program to Evaluate and Advance Quality (PEAQ) and the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). While AQIP will remain an unchanged option for reaffirmation, in September 2012, a three-year transition period began during which PEAQ will be replaced by two new processes, the Standard Pathway and the Open Pathway.

The Higher Learning Commission’s New Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components went into effect for all institutions on January 1, 2013. Both the Standard and Open Pathway options as well as the AQIP process will require that institutions meet this set of Criteria and Core Components. NSSE 2019 survey items have been aligned in this toolkit with the new Core Components.

Standards in Effect September 2012/January 2013

The New Criteria for Accreditation and Core Components. (2012, September). Higher Learning Commission.

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to HLC Criteria (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

HLC Criteria

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

3.B, 3.E

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

3.B, 3.E

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

3.B, 3.E

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

3.A, 3.B, 3.E

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

1.D, 3.B, 3.E, 4.C

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

3.E

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

3.B, 3.E

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

1.D, 3.E

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

3.B, 3.E

b.

Academic advisors

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

c.

Faculty

3.B, 3.E

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

3.E

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

3.D, 3.E

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

1.C, 3.B

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

3.E

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

3.D, 3.E

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

 

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

3.E

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

1.C, 3.D

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

1.C, 3.D

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

1.C, 3.D

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework or lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

3.E

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

3.E

c.

Working for pay on campus

3.E

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

1.D, 3.B, 3.E

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

3.A, 3.B, 4.B, 4.C

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

3.B, 3.E

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

3.B, 3.E

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

3.B, 3.E

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

3.B, 3.E

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

3.B, 3.E

f.

Working effectively with others

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

2.E, 3.E

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

1.D, 3.B, 3.E

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

3.B, 3.E

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

3.B, 3.E

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to HLC Criteria

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

HLC Criteria

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

3.B, 3.E

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

3.B, 3.E

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

3.E

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

3.B, 3.E

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

3.E

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

3.B

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

3.B, 3.E

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

3.B, 3.E

i.

Gave a course presentation

3.B, 3.E

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

3.B, 3.E

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

c.

Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions
or assignments

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

3.B, 3.E

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

3.B, 3.E

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

3.B, 3.E

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

3.B, 3.E

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

3.C, 3.E, 3.D

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

3.B, 3.C

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

3.B, 3.C

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

3.C

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

a.

Memorizing course material

3.B, 3.E

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

3.B, 3.E

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

3.B, 3.E

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

3.B, 3.E

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

3.B, 3.E

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

3.C, 3.D

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

3.C, 3.D

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

3.C, 3.D

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

2.E, 3.C

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

2.E, 3.C

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

3.B, 3.E

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

3.B, 3.E

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

3.B, 3.E

c.

11 pages or more

3.B, 3.E

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

d.

People with political views other than your own

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to HLC Criteria (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

HLC Criteria

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

3.B, 3.E

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

3.B, 3.E

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

3.B, 3.E

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

3.A, 3.B, 3.E

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

1.D, 3.B, 3.E, 4.C

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

3.E

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

3.B, 3.E

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

1.D, 3.E

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

3.B, 3.E

b.

Academic advisors

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

c.

Faculty

3.B, 3.E

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

3.E

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

3.B, 3.D, 3.E

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

3.D, 3.E

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

1.C, 3.B

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

3.E

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

3.D, 3.E

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

 

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

3.B, 3.E

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

3.E

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

1.C, 3.D

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

1.C, 3.D

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

1.C, 3.D

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework or lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

3.E

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

3.E

c.

Working for pay on campus

3.E

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

1.D, 3.B, 3.E

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

3.A, 3.B, 4.B, 4.C

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

3.B, 3.E

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

3.B, 3.E

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

3.B, 3.E

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

3.B, 3.E

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

3.B, 3.E

f.

Working effectively with others

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

2.E, 3.E

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

1.D, 3.B, 3.E

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

1.C, 3.B, 3.E

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

3.B, 3.E

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

3.B, 3.E

Mapping NSSE Items to MSCHE Standards

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. This document offers guidelines for aligning NSSE survey items with regional accreditation standards.

A team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

This toolkit, including the table on pages 6 and 7, “NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to MSCHE Standards,” is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence to support specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Specific Middle States Standards

The specific standards in Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation (13th ed.) are necessarily interrelated. Institutions may find that NSSE results apply to the following accreditation standards:

Standard III. Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

An institution provides students with learning experiences that are characterized by rigor and coherence at all program, certificate, and degree levels, regardless of instructional modality. All learning experiences, regardless of modality, program pace/schedule, level, and setting, are consistent with higher education expectations.

Standard IV. Support of the Student Experience

Across all educational experiences, settings, levels, and instructional modalities, the institution recruits and admits students whose interests, abilities, experiences, and goals are congruent with its mission and educational offerings. The institution commits to student retention, persistence, completion, and success through a coherent and effective support system sustained by qualified professionals, which enhances the quality of the learning environment, contributes to the educational experience, and fosters student success.

Standard V. Educational Effectiveness Assessment

Assessment of student learning and achievement demonstrates that the institution’s students have accomplished educational goals consistent with their program of study, degree level, the institution’s mission, and appropriate expectations for institutions of higher education.

Participation in NSSE and analysis of results can be used as one of a number of institutional activities for “organized and systematic assessment” to support Standards III and IV—in both of which assessment of student learning is a fundamental element of the standard. NSSE results can also be used as indirect indicators of student learning and can be combined with direct measures toward “improving key indicators of student success.”

Standards in Effect September 2014

Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation (13th ed.), Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to MSCHE Standards

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

MSCHE Standards

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

III.2a; III.5b

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

III.2a; III.5b

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

V

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

III.4; III.5a

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

III.5b

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

III.5b

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

III.2a

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

III.2a

i.

Gave a course presentation

III.2a; III.5b

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

III.5a

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

III.5a

c.

Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions
or assignments

III.5a

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

III.5a

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

III.5a

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

III.5a

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

III.5a

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

III.4; IV.1c

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

III.4

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

III.5a

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

IV.1c; III.4

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

a.

Memorizing course material

III.2a; III.5b

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

III.2a; III.5b

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

III.2a; III.5b

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

III.2a; III.5b

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

III.2a; III.5b

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

III.2

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

III.2

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

III.2

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

III.2

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

III.2

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

III.5b

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

III.5b

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

III.5b

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

III.2a; III.5b

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

III.2a; III.5b

c.

11 pages or more

III.2a; III.5b

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

III.5a

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

III.5a

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

III.5a

d.

People with political views other than your own

III.5a

 

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to MSCHE Standards (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

MSCHE Standards

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

III.4; IV.1c

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

III.4; IV.1c

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

III.4; IV.1c

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

III.4; IV.1c

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

III.4; IV.5

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

IV.4

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

III.4; IV.4

 

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

III.4; IV.5

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

II.4

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

III.4; III.5a; III.5b

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

III.4; III.5; IV.5; IV.4

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

 

b.

Academic advisors

IV.1c; IV.1d; IV.2

c.

Faculty

 

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

IV.1c; IV.2; IV.4

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

IV.1a; IV.2; IV.3

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

III.4

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

III.4

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

IV.1c,d; IV.4

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

III.5

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

IV.4

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

IV.1c; IV.4

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

 

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

IV.4

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

III.5a

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

II.2

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

II.2

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

II.2

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework or lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

 

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

IV.4

 

c.

Working for pay on campus

 

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

 

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

 

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

f.

Working effectively with others

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

III.5a,b; V.2a,b,c

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

V

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

IV; V.3g

Mapping NSSE Items to NECHE Standards

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. This document offers guidelines for aligning NSSE survey items with regional accreditation standards.

A team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

This toolkit, including the table on pages 6 and 7, “NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NECHE Standards,” is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence to support specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Specific NECHE Standards

Specific standards within NECHE nine dimensions of institutional quality are necessarily interrelated. In the updated NECHE Standards for Accreditation, which became effective July 1, 2016, many standards were consolidated. This includes the new standard titled Educational Effectiveness, which combines pieces of the former standards 2, 4, and 6. Institutions may find that NSSE results may be used to support many of the considerations detailed in the following three standards.

Standard 2. Planning and Evaluation

Participation in NSSE may provide evidence to support Standard 2 overall. NSSE results may align with Standards 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8, which pertain to evaluation and institutional effectiveness.

The institution undertakes planning and evaluation to accomplish and improve the achievement of its mission and purposes. It identifies its planning and evaluation priorities and pursues them effectively.

Standard 5. Students

Disaggregated NSSE data may address concerns about evaluating the success of specialized recruitment and services for students in Standard 5. NSSE data may also support assessment of institutional effectiveness in admitting and retaining students in Standard 5.6.

Consistent with its mission, the institution sets and achieves realistic goals to enroll students who are broadly representative of the population the institution wishes to serve. It endeavors to ensure the success of its students, offering the resources and services that provide them the opportunity to achieve the goals of their educational program as specified in institutional publications.

Standard 8. Educational Effectiveness

Student responses to NSSE items may offer data points as evidence to support assessment of student learning outcomes, in particular 8.1-8.8.

The institution demonstrates its effectiveness by ensuring satisfactory levels of student achievement on mission-appropriate student outcomes. Based on verifiable information, the institution understands what its students have gained as a result of their education and has useful evidence about the success of its recent graduates. This information is used for planning and improvement, resource allocation, and to inform the public about the institution.

Standards in Effect July 2016

Standards for Accreditation (2016). New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NECHE Standards

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

NECHE Standards

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

2.6−2.8, 8.4

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

 

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

5.8

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

 

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

i.

Gave a course presentation

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 5.17, 8.1−8.8

c.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, or assignments)

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

 

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 8.1−8.8

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

2.5–2.8, 4.16, 4.48–4.54

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

 

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 5.8, 6.2, 6.19, 8.1−8.8

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 6.2, 8.1−8.8, 6.2

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 6.2, 6.19, 8.1−8.8

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

2.6−2.8, 4.16, 6.2, 6.19, 8.1−8.8

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

a.

Memorizing course material

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.17, 8.1–8.8

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.17, 8.1–8.8

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.17, 8.1–8.8

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.17, 8.1–8.8

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.17, 8.1–8.8

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

 

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

 

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

 

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.2, 6.19, 8.1–8.8

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.2, 6.19, 8.1–8.8

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.17, 8.1–8.8

 

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

c.

11 pages or more

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

d.

People with political views other than your own

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NECHE Standards (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

NECHE Standards

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

 

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

 

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

 

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

2.6–2.8, 5.7, 8.4

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

5.7, 5.15

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

2.6–2.8, 5.7, 8.4

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

2.6–2.8, 5.7

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

2.6–2.8, 5.7, 8.4

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 5.7, 8.4

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

2.6–2.8, 8.4

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

8.7

b.

Academic advisors

2.6–2.8, 6.2

c.

Faculty

2.6–2.8, 6.2

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

8.7

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

8.7

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.6, 5.8, 5.10, 8.1–8.8

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

5.10

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

2.6–2.8, 5.8

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

5.9

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 5.8

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 5.8

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

2.6–2.8, 5.8

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

5.12, 9.5

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

5.12, 9.5

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

5.12, 9.5

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework/lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.9, 5.11, 5.15, 5.17, 8.1–8.8

c.

Working for pay on campus

 

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

2.6–2.8, 8.4

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

 

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.6, 8.1–8.8

f.

Working effectively with others

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 8.1–8.8

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.17, 8.1–8.8

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.17, 8.1–8.8

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 5.17, 8.1–8.8

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

2.6–2.8, 4.16, 6.18, 8.1–8.8

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

 

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

 

Mapping NSSE Items to NWCCU Standards

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. This document offers guidelines for aligning NSSE survey items with regional accreditation standards.

A team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

This toolkit, including the table on pages 6 and 7, “NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NWCCU Standards,” is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence to support specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Specific NWCCU Standards

NWCCU completed a major revision of its Handbook of Accreditation 2020 Edition. Institutions may find that NSSE and particular items offer data points as evidence in support of multiple accreditation standards and NWCCU’s commitment to equity in student success and to ensuring institutions act with integrity, produce high-quality educational outcomes, and continuously improve.

Standard 1.B. Improving Institutional Effectiveness

Participation in NSSE may provide evidence that the institution “uses an ongoing and systematic evaluation and planning process to inform and refine its effectiveness…. Improve student learning and achievement” (Standard 1.B.1), to demonstrate improvement as expected in 1.B.3, and to monitor patterns and trends in 1.B.4.

Standard 1.C. Student Learning

Participation in the NSSE survey and analyses of institutional results may offer evidence of support for several elements under Standard 1.C that focuses on quality of learning, learning outcomes, academic support and the use of assessment results to inform planning.

Standard 1.D. Student Achievement

Participation in the NSSE survey and analyses of institutional results may offer evidence of support for several elements under Standard 1.D including providing information and advice to students, and to benchmark and disaggregate on indicators of student achievement.

Standard 2.G. Student Support Resources

NSSE results and analyses of institutional results may offer evidence of support for several elements under Standard 2.G that focuses on effective learning environments, equity, and services to support student learning and success.

Standards in Effect January 2020

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities NWCCU Standards for Accreditation (revised 2020).

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NWCCU Standards

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

NWCCU Standards (2020)

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

 

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

 

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

 

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

 

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

2.G.1

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

2.G.1

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

2.G.1

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

2.G.1

i.

Gave a course presentation

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

1.C.1, 1.C.6

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

1.C.1, 1.C.6

c.

Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions
or assignments

1.C.1, 1.C.6

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

 

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

1.C.6

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

1.C.1, 1.C.6

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

1.C.1, 1.C.6

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

1.C.5, 1.D.1

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

 

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

 

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

2.C.5, 2.D.3

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

a.

Memorizing course material

1.C.1

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

1.C.1, 1.C.6

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

1.C.1, 1.C.6

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

1.C.1, 1.C.6

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

1.C.1, 1.C.6

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

1.C.5, 2.G.1

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

1.C.5, 2.G.1

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

1.C.5, 2.G.1

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

1.C.5, 1.D.1, 2.G.1

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

1.C.5, 2.G.1

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

1.C.1, 1.C.6

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

1.C.1, 1.C.6

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

1.C.1, 1.C.6

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

1.C.1

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

1.C.1

c.

11 pages or more

1.C.1

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

1.C.6

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

1.C.6

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

1.C.6

d.

People with political views other than your own

1.C.6

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to NWCCU Standards (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

NWCCU Standards (2020)

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

1.C.1, 1.C.6

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

 

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

 

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

 

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

2.G.1

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

2.G.1

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

2.G.1

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

2.G.1

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

2.G.1

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

2.G.1

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

2.G.1

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

 

b.

Academic advisors

1.D.1, 2.G.1

, 2.G.6, 2.F.3, 2.F.4

c.

Faculty

1.C.5, 2.G.1

, 2.G.6, 2.F.3, 2.F.4

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

1.D.1, 2.G.1

, 2.G.6, 2.F.3, 2.F.4

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

1.D.1, 2.G.1

, 2.G.6, 2.F.3, 2.F.4, 2.G.4

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

 

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

1.C.1, 1.D.1, 2.G.1

, 2.G.6, 2.H.1

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

1.C.1, 2.G.1, 2.H.1

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

1.C.6

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

 

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

2.G.1,

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

2.G.1

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

2.G.1

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

2.G.1

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

1.D.2, 2.G.1

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

1.D.2, 2.G.1

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

1.D.2, 2.G.1

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework/ lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

 

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

2.G.1

c.

Working for pay on campus

 

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

 

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

 

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

1.C.6, 2.G.1

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

1.C.6, 2.G.1

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

1.C.6, 2.G.1

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

1.C.6, 2.G.1

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

1.C.6, 2.G.1

f.

Working effectively with others

1.C.6, 2.G.1

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

1.C.6

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

1.C.6

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

1.C.6, 2.G.1

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

1.C.6, 2.G.1

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

1.B.4

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

1.B.4

 

Mapping NSSE Items to SACSCOC

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. This document offers guidelines for aligning NSSE survey items with regional accreditation standards.

A team of NSSE staff members reviewed accreditation standards for each accreditation organization and mapped NSSE survey items to those standards that we thought closely corresponded. Our hope is that this alignment encourages institutions to consider various ways to integrate NSSE data into accreditation processes, beyond simply mentioning NSSE as an element in its systematic assessment activities.

NSSE Survey Items Mapped to SACSCOC Requirements and Standards, is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence to support specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Specific Core Requirements

SACS 7.1. Institutional Planning and Effectiveness: Institutional Planning

Institutions may consider using NSSE results as institution wide evidence to support the criteria under this core requirement: (a) focus on institutional quality and effectiveness; and (b) incorporate a systematic review of institutional goals and outcomes consistent with the institution’s mission.

SACS 7.2. Institutional Planning and Effectiveness: Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)

NSSE results can be used by institutions for data-driven, evidence-based decision making and for focusing on a course of action for the QEP. As direct assessments, NSSE results support the first, third, and fifth criteria of the QEP strategy: (a) has a topic identified through its ongoing comprehensive planning and evaluation processes; (c) focuses on improving specific student learning outcomes and/or student success; and (e) includes a plan to assess achievement.

SACS 8.1. Student Achievement

NSSE results can be used to evaluate outcomes for student achievement, to document student success, and to meet expectations for publishing student achievement outcomes.

SACS 14.3. Transparency and Institutional Representation: Comprehensive Institutional Review

NSSE results can be used to assess and showcase the experiences of online, branch campus, and off-campus instructional sites through the identification and assessment of these learners based on students’ self-selection of their participation in online classes.

Standards in Effect January 1, 2018

The Principles of Accreditation: Foundations for Quality Enhancement (2018 edition). Adopted December 2017. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to SACSCOC Criteria

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

SACS CRs & Standards

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

8.2.a

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

8.2.a

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

8.2.a

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

8.2.a, 12.1

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

 

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

12.1

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

8.2.a

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

8.2.a

i.

Gave a course presentation

8.2.a

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

8.2.a

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

8.2.a

c.

Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions
or assignments

8.2.a

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

8.2.a

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

8.2.a, 12.1

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

8.2.a, 12.1

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

 

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

8.2.a, 8.2c, 10.4, 12.1

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

9.1.b, 12.1

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

12.1

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

8.2.a, 10.4

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

a.

Memorizing course material

 

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

8.2.a

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

8.2.a

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

8.2.a

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

8.2.a

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

8.2.a, 8.2b

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

8.2.a

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

8.2.a

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

8.2.a, 10.4

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

8.2.a, 10.4

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

8.2.a

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

8.2.a

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

8.2.a

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

8.2.a, 10.4

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

8.2.a, 10.4

c.

11 pages or more

8.2.a, 10.4

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

8.2.a, 8.2.c

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

8.2.a, 8.2.c

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

8.2.a, 8.2.c

d.

People with political views other than your own

8.2.a, 8.2.c

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

 

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

 

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

 

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

 

 

 

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to SACSCOC Criteria (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

SACS CRs & Standards

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

12.1

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

 

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

8.2.a, 12.1

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

8.2.a, 12.1

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

8.2.c, 10.4, 12.1

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

8.2.a, 12.1

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

8.2.a, 9.1.b, 10.4, 12.1

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

a.

Students

 

b.

Academic advisors

8.2.c, 12.1

c.

Faculty

8.2.c

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

5.4, 7.3, 8.2.c, 12.1, 12.2

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

5.4, 7.3, 8.2.c, 12.1, 12.2

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

8.2.a

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

8.2.a, 8.2.c, 10.4, 11.1, 11.3, 11.2, 12.1

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

8.2.c, 12.1

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

8.2.a, 12.1

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

12.1

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

8.2.c, 12.1

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

12.1

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

8.2.c, 12.1, 13.7

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

8.2.c, 12.1, 13.7

   15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

8.2.c

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

8.2.c

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

8.2.c

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework/lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

8.2.a

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

12.1

c.

Working for pay on campus

8.2.a

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

 

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

12.1

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

12.1

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

12.1

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

 

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

8.2.a, 8.2.b

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

8.2.a, 8.2.b

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

8.2.a, 8.2.b

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

8.2.a, 8.2.b

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

8.2.a, 8.2.b, 12.1

f.

Working effectively with others

8.2.a, 12.1

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

8.2.a, 12.1

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

8.2.a, 12.1

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

8.2.a, 12.1

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

8.2.a, 12.1

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

7.1

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

7.1

 

Mapping NSSE Items to WSCUC Core Commitments

A successful accreditation plan is authentic to each institution. An important step in developing any accreditation plan, however, is identifying the existing evaluation practices  and the evidence from them that can be linked to accreditation standards, commitments, and/or criteria. In the 2013 WSCUC Handbook of Accreditation, WSCUC calls on institutions to “ground their activities in three Core Commitments” (p. 8): (1) Student Learning and Success; (2) Quality and Improvement; and (3) Institutional Integrity, Sustainability, and Accountability.

Many NSSE items relate to achieving these commitments, and their results can be woven into Core Commitment narratives. To facilitate institutions’ consideration of related student engagement results, we have mapped NSSE survey items to the WSCUC Core Commitments and Standards (see table pp. 6 –7). Institutions are encouraged to consider the mappings and to think broadly about how NSSE data can be used when preparing their self-study. NSSE data can be used as a guide when designing an assessment plan or, retroactively, when looking back to assess the impact of a new program or initiative.

Looking forward, when designing an assessment plan for a new program, institutions can look at their NSSE results to think critically and shape the new program. Looking back, if an institution has participated in NSSE two or more times leading up to reaffirmation, it can also use NSSE data longitudinally to reflect on the Core Commitment to Quality and Improvement. By looking across data from two or three NSSE administrations, institutions can reflect on quality and improvement initiatives and their impact over time on seniors, first-years, or subgroups among NSSE participants (e.g., veterans, commuter students).

Mapping NSSE Items to WSCUC Standards

Institutions may find that NSSE results support multiple criteria for review within WSCUC's three of the four major WSCUC standards areas. This toolkit, including the following table, “NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to WSCUC Core Commitments and Standards,” is not intended as a strict formula for relating NSSE results to accreditation standards but, rather, as a stimulus to think more broadly about how these data can provide evidence of specific standards. NSSE findings can also be used to support and document institutional improvement efforts but will be most meaningful when coupled with other measures of student learning outcomes for your campus.

Standard 1. Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives

Participation in the NSSE survey and analyses of results may offer evidence of support for Criterion 1.2.

Educational objectives are widely recognized throughout the institution, are consistent with stated purposes, and are demonstrably achieved. The institution regularly generates, evaluates, and makes public data about student achievement, including measures of retention and graduation, and evidence of student earning outcomes.

Standard 2. Achieving Educational Objectives Through Core Functions

Many NSSE items may offer data points as evidence of achieving education objectives, in particular, Criterion 2.2a, which focuses on assessment of core competencies.

The institution achieves its institutional purposes and attains the educational objectives at the institutional and program level through the core functions of teaching and learning, scholarship and creative activity, and support for student learning and success. The institution demonstrates that these core functions are performed effectively by evaluating valid and reliable evidence of learning and by supporting the success of every student.

Standard 4. Creating an Organization Committed to Learning and Improvement

NSSE results are particularly appropriate to Criteria 4.1–4.4, which focus on gathering, assessing, and evaluating data as evidence of learning to inform improvement efforts, strategic planning, and decision-making.

The institution engages in sustained, evidence-based, and participatory self-reflection about how effectively it is accomplishing its purposes and achieving its educational objectives. The institution considers the changing environment of higher education in envisioning its future. These activities inform both institutional planning and systematic evaluations of educational effectiveness. The results of institutional inquiry, research, and data collection are used to establish priorities, to plan, and to improve quality and effectiveness.

Standards in Effect July 2013

2013 Handbook of Accreditation (2013, July 1). Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WSCUC)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to WSCUC (WASC) Core Commitments and Standards

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

WSCUC Core*

WSCUC Standards

1.   

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

 

a.

Asked questions or contributed to course discussions in other ways 

1

2.2a

b.

Prepared two or more drafts of a paper or assignment before turning it in

1

2.2a , 2.5

c.

Come to class without completing readings or assignments

2

 

d.

Attended an art exhibit, play, dance, music, theater, or other performance

2

2.2a

e.

Asked another student to help you understand course material

1

 

f.

Explained course material to one or more students

1

2.13

g.

Prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students

1

2.2a

h.

Worked with other students on course projects or assignments

1

2.2a

i.

Gave a course presentation

 

2.2a

2.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

 

a.

Combined ideas from different courses when completing assignments

2

2.2a , 2.5, 2.9

b.

Connected your learning to societal problems or issues

 

2.2a , 2.5

c.

Included diverse perspectives (political, religious, racial/ethnic, gender, etc.) in course discussions or assignments

1

1.4, 2.2a

d.

Examined the strengths and weaknesses of your own views on a topic or issue

1

2.2a

e.

Tried to better understand someone else’s views by imagining how an issue looks from his or her perspective

1

1.4, 2.2a

f.

Learned something that changed the way you understand an issue or concept

1

2.2a

g.

Connected ideas from your courses to your prior experiences and knowledge

1

2.2a

3.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

 

a.

Talked about career plans with a faculty member

1

2.13

b.

Worked with a faculty member on activities other than coursework (committees, student groups, etc.)

2

2.11

c.

Discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with a faculty member outside of class

1, 2

 

d.

Discussed your academic performance with a faculty member

1

2.5

4.

During the current school year, how much has your coursework emphasized the following?

 

 

a.

Memorizing course material

1

 

b.

Applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations

1

2.2a

c.

Analyzing an idea, experience, or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts

1

2.2a

d.

Evaluating a point of view, decision, or information source

1

2.2a

e.

Forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information

1

2.2a

5.

During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?

 

 

a.

Clearly explained course goals and requirements

2

2.4. 2.5

b.

Taught course sessions in an organized way

 

3.2

c.

Used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points

 

3.2

d.

Provided feedback on a draft or work in progress

1

2.5

e.

Provided prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments

1

2.5

6.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

 

a.

Reached conclusions based on your own analysis of numerical information (numbers, graphs, statistics, etc.)

1

2.2a , 2.5

b.

Used numerical information to examine a real-world problem or issue (unemployment, climate change, public health, etc.)

1

2.2a , 2.5

c.

Evaluated what others have concluded from numerical information

1

2.2a , 2.5

7.

During the current school year, about how many papers, reports, or other writing tasks of the following length have you been assigned? (Include those not yet completed.)

 

 

a.

Up to 5 pages

 

 

b.

Between 6 and 10 pages

 

 

c.

11 pages or more

 

 

8.

During the current school year, about how often have you had discussions with people from the following groups?

 

 

a.

People of a race or ethnicity other than your own

1, 2

1.4, 2.2a

b.

People from an economic background other than your own

1, 2

1.4, 2.2a

c.

People with religious beliefs other than your own

1, 2

1.4, 2.2a

d.

People with political views other than your own

1, 2

1.4, 2.2a

9.

During the current school year, about how often have you done the following?

 

 

a.

Identified key information from reading assignments

 

 

b.

Reviewed your notes after class

 

 

c.

Summarized what you learned in class or from course materials

 

 

10.

During the current school year, to what extent have your courses challenged you to do your best work?

 

2.5

NSSE 2020 Survey Items Mapped to WSCUC (WASC) Core Commitments and Standards (continued)

NSSE 2020 Survey Items

WSCUC Core*

WSCUC Standards

11.

Which of the following have you done or do you plan to do before you graduate?

 

 

a.

Participate in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement

1, 2

2.8

b.

Hold a formal leadership role in a student organization or group

 

2.11

c.

Participate in a learning community or some other formal program where groups of students take two or more classes together

1, 2

2.11

d.

Participate in a study abroad program

1, 2

2.2a , 2.8

e.

Work with a faculty member on a research project

1

2.8

f.

Complete a culminating senior experience (capstone course, senior project or thesis, comprehensive exam, portfolio, etc.)

1

2.2a , 2.8

12.

About how many of your courses at this institution have included a community-based project (service-learning)?

 

2.8, 2.11

13.

Indicate the quality of your interactions with the following people at your institution.

 

 

a.

Students

2

 

b.

Academic advisors

2

2.12

c.

Faculty

2

2.5

d.

Student services staff (career services, student activities, housing, etc.)

2

2.13

e.

Other administrative staff and offices (registrar, financial aid, etc.)

2

2.13

14.

How much does your institution emphasize the following?

 

 

a.

Spending significant amounts of time studying and on academic work

1, 3

 

b.

Providing support to help students succeed academically

1, 3

2.5, 2.10, 2.12, 2.13

c.

Using learning support services (tutoring services, writing center, etc.)

1

2.12, 2.13

d.

Encouraging contact among students from different backgrounds (social, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)

 

1.4, 2.2a

e.

Providing opportunities to be involved socially

 

2.11

f.

Providing support for your overall well-being (recreation, health care, counseling, etc.)

1

2.13

g.

Helping you manage your non-academic responsibilities (work, family, etc.)

1, 2

2.13

h.

Attending campus activities and events (performing arts, athletic events, etc.)

 

2.2a , 2.11

i.

Attending events that address important social, economic, or political issues

2

1.4, 2.2a , 2.11

15.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

 

 

a.

I feel comfortable being myself at this institution.

 

1.4, 2.10

b.

I feel valued by this institution.

 

1.4, 2.10

c.

I feel like part of the community at this institution.

 

1.4, 2.10

16.

About how many hours do you spend in a typical 7-day week doing the following?

 

 

a.

Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, doing homework or lab work, analyzing data, rehearsing, and other academic activities)

1

 

b.

Participating in co-curricular activities (organizations, campus publications, student government, fraternity or sorority, intercollegiate or intramural sports, etc.)

 

2.11, 2.13

c.

Working for pay on campus

 

 

d.

Working for pay off campus

 

 

e.

Doing community service or volunteer work

 

2.2a

f.

Relaxing and socializing (time with friends, video games, TV or videos, keeping up with friends online, etc.)

 

 

g.

Providing care for dependents (children, parents, etc.)

 

 

h.

Commuting to campus (driving, walking, etc.)

 

 

17.

Of the time you spend preparing for class in a typical 7-day week, about how many hours are on assigned reading?

 

 

18.

How much has your experience at this institution contributed to your knowledge, skills, and personal development in the following areas?

 

 

a.

Writing clearly and effectively

1, 2

2.2a

b.

Speaking clearly and effectively

1, 2

2.2a

c.

Thinking critically and analytically

1, 2

2.2a

d.

Analyzing numerical and statistical information

1, 2

2.2a

e.

Acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills

1, 2

2.2a, 2.5

f.

Working effectively with others

1

2.2a

g.

Developing or clarifying a personal code of values and ethics

3

2.2a

h.

Understanding people of other backgrounds (economic, racial/ethnic, political, religious, nationality, etc.)

1, 3

1.4, 2.2a

i.

Solving complex real-world problems

 

2.2a, 2.5

j.

Being an informed and active citizen

 

2.2a

19.

How would you evaluate your entire educational experience at this institution?

 

 

20.

If you could start over again, would you go to the same institution you are now attending?

 

 

* WASC Core Commitments: 1=Student Learning and Success; 2=Quality and Improvement; 3=Institutional Integrity, Sustainability, and Accountability

 

Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

In its self-study, Reaching Higher, prepared in April 2007 for HLC, St. Cloud State indicated data from external norm-referenced instruments used at the institution, NSSE, and other surveys “have been collected since 2001 and have been used as action guides for student life and development staff as well as for improvements in academic support and academic programs.” NSSE results have been used as evidence for numerous criteria for St. Cloud’s self-study.

In Criterion Two of HLC standards, Core Component 2A, on an institution’s preparation for the future, St. Cloud states that NSSE data, with other assessment tools, have been discussed in academic and administrative groups resulting in changes in the Division of Student Life and the First-Year Experience, and the development of an early warning system for students experiencing academic difficulty.

For Core Component 2C, requiring evidence of an effective, ongoing evaluation and assessment process, NSSE data along with other survey results provide a snapshot of the student experience: for example, how students are interacting and how St. Cloud might enhance these interactions in terms of diversity and how technology is used in communication and course content. Students report that faculty members use technology effectively and enhance their courses with self-paced electronic resources. Student responses are used to plan student services and have led to the creation of the First-Year Experience program and the appointment of additional staff to the advising, honors, and counseling programs.

For student learning and effective teaching, Criterion Three, NSSE results were used to support Core Component 3C, on effective learning environments. Scores on NSSE items showed that St. Cloud students participate in significantly more community-based projects than selected peers and the entire NSSE cohort. St. Cloud students also worked with peers inside and outside the classroom more frequently, “developing important skills in becoming lifelong learners.”

In support of Standard 3.A.3 of its 2010 self-study for HLC, The University of Denver (DU) assesses student learning at multiple levels using multiple methods that include NSSE, BCSSE, and other student satisfaction surveys. Multi-year analyses of benchmark scores were reviewed by the chancellor, provost, and other senior administrators. Institutional research staff conducted student focus groups and also, in particular, found concerns about the distributed nature of administrative services at DU reflected in lower scores on the Supportive Campus Environment (SCE) benchmark than DU’s peers and comparison groups. This led to the creation of the Center for Academic and Career Development, a “one-stop” service model. Combined use of NSSE and BCSSE results has also provided further support for Standard 3.A.3. In fall 2009, BCSSE was administered to the cohort of incoming students, who then took the NSSE survey in spring 2009. Longitudinal analyses of responses of this same cohort in their senior year to the 2012 NSSE survey will be used as indirect evidence to explore institutional factors at DU that best support student learning.

Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Juniata College can be described as a “data rich” institution, where senior administrators are firm believers in gathering as much data as possible to inform their planning efforts. NSSE results have fed Juniata’s planning efforts, were used in the reaccreditation process beginning with its 2001 self-study for MSCHE, and will be used for their 2012–13 review. NSSE benchmarks and high-impact practices are integrated into Juniata’s strategic plan, and results on survey items such as study abroad, internships, and critical and analytical skills will be monitored in its long-range planning. Juniata faculty have shown increasing interest in NSSE results, and the International Learning Assessment Committee has been charged with reviewing the impact of study abroad. Because a large cohort participated in study abroad in 2010, the committee plans to examine NSSE results for correlations between study abroad and levels of engagement.

Reaccredited by MSCHE in 2008 and designated by the state legislature “Maryland’s Public Urban University,” Morgan State University (MSU) chose a model for its 2008 Middle States Self-Study aligning Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence with the 14 MSCHE standards for excellence. Morgan used focus groups, NSSE results, and other national assessment instruments as evidence of student and stakeholder satisfaction to support MSCHE Standard 9, Student Support Services: “The institution provides student support services reasonably necessary to enable each student to achieve the institution’s goals for students,” which was combined with Baldrige Category 3, Student Stakeholder and Market Focus.

A series of focus groups, “Opportunities for Continuous Improvement in Academics,” was carried out in 2007 in which students, faculty, and administrators offered suggestions to improve customer service at MSU. Results from NSSE, an internal first-year survey, and findings from an external consultant agency also addressed concerns with customer service, especially student registration processes. The university also established the Morgan Cares and Helping Hands programs as a result of its involvement in the Building Engagement and Attainment for Minority Students (BEAMS) project.

For MSCHE Standard 14, Assessment of Student Learning, one of the two major assessment standards of MSCHE’s Characteristics of Excellence guidelines, Morgan linked Baldrige Category 7, Organizational Performance Results and used NSSE and Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) results to measure the success of the university’s assessment plan. Specific NSSE items on addressing faculty expectations, participating in community-based projects, applying theories and concepts to practical problems, monitoring the number of papers and books read, and gaining work-related knowledge and skills were highlighted.

The university continues to promote a strong liberal arts curriculum and improvement in its students’ written and oral communication skills through a quality General Education program. NSSE and FSSE provided responses on student engagement from both student and faculty perspectives. In addition to effective written and oral communication, survey items of particular relevance to Morgan’s assessment included acquiring a broad general education, thinking critically and analytically, analyzing quantitative problems, using computing and information technology, and solving complex real world problems.

As described in its self-study, “A Science and Technology Research University for the 21st Century,” the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is “an assessment-based university in terms of educational effectiveness.” The development of its Strategic Plan 2012–2015, coincided with the institution’s 10-year bid for reaffirmation of accreditation from MSCHE and provided an opportunity to unify assessment efforts. NJIT used first-year student results from 2008 and 2010 NSSE administrations related to classroom presentations, collaborating on projects, tutoring other students, diversity experiences, and development of ethical values as indirect measures for MSCHE Standard 14, Assessment of Student Learning. Additional results from seniors on writing 20+-page papers, working with classmates outside of class, serving as tutors, participating in discussions on ethnic diversity, and participating in a capstone project were used to compare NJIT’s performance with that of Carnegie peers. Also under Standard 14, NJIT highlighted results from participation in NSSE’s Consortium for the Study of Writing in College as evidence of strong competence in a variety of writing measures. NSSE administration was also factored into the new NJIT Integrated Assessment System Matrix, and results were charted for use by senior administration and department chairs for the development of curriculum and the allocation of resources

New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Founded in the late 1960s to incorporate the concepts of human ecology into a traditional liberal arts curriculum, the College of the Atlantic prepares students “to practically apply their learning to improve prospects for a sustainable, peaceful, and just society.” In an action-oriented environment, COA’s self-directed students participate in the construction of their own academic programs. Coursework is interdisciplinary and experiential. There are no academic departments and faculty are nonranked. “All members of the community were encouraged to engage in the institution’s governance in order to learn about democracy, cooperation, and leadership” (p. 2). COA prepared its NEASC self-study for reaffirmation in this spirit of participatory governance. For NEASC Standard Four, The Academic Program, overall survey participation and student responses on selected NSSE items provided evidence of an effective institutional assessment strategy and a successful academic advising program. Items related to making a class presentation, interacting with peers from different backgrounds, participating in co-curricular activities, and writing multiple drafts of papers were used for assessment. In addition, qualitative and quantitative evidence—NSSE results and increased retention rates, particularly from the first- to second-year of study—were used to demonstrate a successful approach to academic advising.

In its 2012 self-study for NEASC reaffirmation, Worcester State shared data from 2008 and 2011 NSSE administrations via roundtable discussions and provided results at program and department levels. Results from a 2012 FSSE administration will be compared with previous NSSE responses as indirect measures of student and faculty engagement indicators for Standard 4, The Academic Program, Assessment of Student Learning. A third survey, the Commuter and Off-Campus Student Experience Survey (COSES), administered in 2012, will provide additional data on needs and experiences of commuter students. These three surveys will continue to be administered over time to identify long-term trends and patterns. Worcester State also plans to use combined data from NSSE and FSSE as a knowledge base to bolster its retention efforts. Campus-wide discussions are planned to gather ideas on ways to support students both inside and outside the classroom.

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

To support its 2009 self-study for the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, WSU used NSSE scores over multiple years for evidence of the impact of several programs initiated to improve student engagement and learning. These programs included:

  • A first-year living-learning community, titled “Freshmen Focus”
  • Integrated residence hall programming and co-curricular activities
  • Implementation of a new foreign language requirement for the honors program as well as an elective for general education studies
  • Residence hall tutoring services
  • Increased emphasis on experiential learning

To further support first-year initiatives and improve NSSE benchmark scores on student-faculty interaction and active and collaborative learning, WSU offered faculty curriculum improvement grants. “Preliminary data from the 2008 NSSE indicate that the pilot projects introduced in 2005–07 have begun to impact the student experience.” Built into WSU’s new strategic plan for 2008–2013 are goals to enhance the student experience and build deep learning experiences into curriculum at all levels.

Based on previous accreditation visits, the University of Utah knew it needed a comprehensive and systematic student outcomes assessment plan. To help prepare for a 2006 reaccreditation visit, the university created an assessment plan focusing on three core issues: student progression, student learning, and student engagement and university experiences. Two teams were formed to coordinate and direct this effort, the Student Outcomes Assessment Council and the Assessment Working Group. In terms of student progression, results from NSSE and other surveys have shown that U of U students spend more hours off-campus involved in work, family, and church missions. The university planned to increase its efforts to retain these students and to improve student engagement in social and academic areas so that its future NSSE scores compare more favorably with those of peer institutions. The university has also been working to “increase enrollments in courses with substantial amounts of student-faculty interaction, and to develop structures and events that can build social networks and create a shared sense of community on our urban, de-centralized, and largely commuter campus.”

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

A 30-member, campus-wide Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Exploratory Committee was formed in 2010 to explore potential topics for Auburn University’s 2013 QEP for SACSCOC. In 14 meetings over the next year, the committee reviewed results from an internal survey and short proposals for QEP concepts. Eight proposals received funding for further development and four of these were recommended to senior leadership, who selected The ePortfolio Project: Communicating Learning the Auburn Way as Auburn’s QEP topic. The QEP Development Committee, formed in 2011, was charged with reviewing research on ePortfolios; refining the scope of the project; developing a plan, budget, and timeline; and preparing a final report for SACSCOC based on review and input from the Auburn community.

NSSE data along with results of Auburn’s 2010 participation in the Consortium of Colleges Studying Writing (CCSW) in 2010 were used in the selection of a QEP topic and creation of the implementation plan. A number of NSSE survey items overlapped with Auburn’s ePortfolio Project Student Learning Outcomes including (a) making class presentations; (b) preparing drafts, integrating information from different sources;               (c) synthesizing information or experiences; (d) making judgments; (e) acquiring job skills; (f) writing clearly and effectively; (g) thinking critically and analytically;         (h) speaking clearly and effectively; (i) using computing and information technology; and (j) understanding self in relation to Auburn’s ePortfolio Project. The 27 additional questions CCSW developed as a part of NSSE asked students about including visual materials in documents, creating projects with multi-media, addressing a real audience, using language and genres of the discipline, and creating a portfolio that collects work from more than one class. As part of a longitudinal study by the Office of University Writing, the faculty version of the CCSW survey was administered in fall 2010 to all faculty who were teaching or who had taught an upper division course in the previous three years. Auburn planned to administer the student and faculty versions of the consortium questions again in 2015 and analyze any changes in responses from 2010 to 2015 to key questions relevant to ePortfolio Project learning outcomes. Auburn planned to use these results to help assess student learning outcomes as well as the impact and benefits of the ePortfolio Project on students, faculty, curriculum, and other stakeholders.

NSSE results were used in the preparation of GSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for reaccreditation by SACSCOC in 2008. The focus of the QEP was to increase undergraduate students’ critical thinking and writing skills in their major field of study. Upon review by the QEP Leadership Committee, NSSE data revealed that, compared to their Carnegie peers, GSU seniors wrote fewer short papers and felt their undergraduate experience did not contribute much to their critical thinking abilities. The committee found similar results from an internal survey administered each semester to recent graduates that measures learning outcomes and academic program satisfaction. These findings informed the final QEP, Critical Thinking Through Writing, which proposed targeted efforts to improve students’ critical thinking and writing skills in their major field of study.

Kennesaw State’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for 2007–2012, Global Learning for Engaged Citizenship, is a “five-year plan…to raise global learning to the top tier of KSU’s educational priorities and outcomes.” The plan relies heavily on longitudinal assessment of NSSE data as well as “nuggets” from 2005 NSSE results to provide baseline evidence of KSU’s impact on student learning outcomes. KSU’s QEP contains ten goals with related action plans and strategies for assessing progress. For example, analyses of NSSE scores from 2004, 2005, and 2006, indicated the KSU students did not report desired levels of exposure to diversity, participation in study abroad, and taking a foreign language to support KSU’s global learning goals. Goals 1–9 of the plan concentrate on strengthening leadership, financial, and infrastructure commitments “to the promotion and interaction of visibility and awareness of the importance of global learning,” and to enhancing student success programs. The action plan for Goal 10, “Campuswide Engagement in Global Learning Will Increase Greatly,” focuses on assessing the summative impact of Goals 1–9 and includes biennial participation in NSSE through 2012. Survey responses of KSU seniors will be used for trend analysis and to show gains in targeted areas.

The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) participates in NSSE to gather evidence for strategic planning and accreditation. UT Tyler’s 2009–2015 strategic plan, Inspiring Excellence, incorporates assessment of study abroad and global citizenship using NSSE results. Along similar lines, UT Tyler’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Global Awareness Through Education” (GATE), was submitted in 2010 for reaffirmation by SACSCOC. The goals of the QEP are to infuse the general education curriculum with global issues and topics, create new student learning communities centered on a study abroad experience, and provide greatly expanded co-curricular activities on campus led by the GATE learning community students and faculty.

In fall 2008, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga QEP committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students from representative areas of campus, examined a variety of institutional student assessments, which included data from the 2005 and 2006 NSSE and 2005 FSSE administrations. Since results revealed a large discrepancy between student and faculty perceptions of higher level cognitive skills being exercised in the classroom, student and faculty responses on NSSE and FSSE were then used to help define the focus of UTC’s QEP. A number of faculty members believed these skills were being taught but that students did not fully understand what they were being asked to do. Results were used as a starting point for 15 campuswide discussions held during the 2008–09 academic year. Discussions were conveniently scheduled to provide university representatives the opportunity to attend at least one session and resulted in identification of critical thinking as a foundation for UTC’s QEP, ThinkAchieve: Creating Connections, beginning with the following formal definition of critical thinking:

Critical thinking is the habitual practice of raising questions, identifying problems, analyzing existing information, creating innovative solutions, and reflecting on the process and the product as a means of constant improvement.

This definition was integrated into pre-orientation and orientation programming, the curriculum, and experiential learning programs. The programs will be phased in over a period of five years and will relate directly to the mission and strategic plan of UTC.

Designed to meet many of the standards as outlined in SACS Principles of Accreditation (2008), Core Requirements 3.3, Institutional Effectiveness, UTC’s ThinkAchieve program:

  1. includes a broad-based institutional process identifying key issues emerging from institutional assessment;
  2. focuses on learning outcomes and/or the environment supporting student learning and accomplishing the mission of the institution;
  3. demonstrates institutional capability for the initiation, implementation, and completion of the QEP;
  4. includes broad-based involvement of institutional constituencies in the development and proposed implementation of the QEP; and
  5. identifies goals and a plan to assess their achievement

(ThinkAchieve: Creating Connections, p. 9)

Funds have been budgeted for the 5-year plan beginning with the 2011–2012 academic year. In addition to three new assessment positions, funds for participation in NSSE, FSSE, Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT), and other survey tools, have been appropriated. Each year, NSSE and FSSE results will be used to assess whether student and faculty perceptions have begun to align and reflect the intended outcomes of the QEP.

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
Email: