Guidelines for Display of NSSE Results

Displaying NSSE Results on Institution Web Sites

Many colleges and universities post NSSE results on their Web sites. NSSE encourages public reporting of student engagement results in ways that serve to increase understanding of college quality and that support institutional improvement efforts.

 Displaying results is critical at a time when transparency and public accountability figure prominently in our lexicon. To that end, NSSE is committed to helping institutions display their results. See NSSE’s position on public reporting of student engagement information. In addition, accountability initiatives like the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), and the University and College Accountability Network (UCAN), provide leadership and a platform for disclosing information about colleges and universities, student learning outcomes, and institutional performance. 


Posting standard issue NSSE reports, such as the Snapshot, Engagement Indicators, or the former Benchmark Comparisons Report can be helpful. However, we encourage institutions to go a step further by displaying NSSE results in modified, accessible formats for internal and external audiences. For example, colleges and universities may highlight selected results to demonstrate distinct undergraduate experiences to visitors and prospective students, variation in engagement by student major for faculty and administrators, or public self-study analyses beyond those provided in the NSSE Institutional Report. Institutional researchers and others seeking guidance on analyzing and interpreting their results should consult the relevant one-page guide, at the start of each report,  designed to aid in the interpretation of results in each NSSE comparison report and the following documents or NSSE staff.

      Accreditation Toolkits

      Psychometric Portfolio

      Contextualizing Effect Sizes in the National Survey of Student Engagement: An Empirical Analysis

Translating results into accurate, accessible formats for different audiences can be challenging. This guide will aid personnel from institutional research, admissions, public relations, communications, web development, and other areas to display information that is accurate, intended for a general audience, and consistent with NSSE’s advice and policy against rankings


In Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension, published by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (2009), Peter Ewell describes a shift to “a new policy centrality of higher education…Colleges and universities are being asked to disclose more and more about academic results and are responding in kind” (p. 6). To respond in part to this imperative, many institutions have made some or all of their NSSE survey results publicly available on their Web sites.

We regularly review institutional Web sites for creative displays that meet basic standards of data representation and interpretation. Examples are featured on the NSSE Web site to illustrate the varied ways institutions have posted their results. These sites are consistent with NSSE’s policy against rankings and with the recommendations described in this guide. 

This guide offers suggestions for good displays and how to address some common pitfalls.

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