How Institutions Use Their Data

How Institutions Use Their Data

When NSSE participating institutions receive their institutional results, it signals only the beginning of their processes to share and interpret data, identify priorities for action, formulate and implement plans for improvement—and then to circle back to assess the impact of those efforts.

California State University Dominguez Hills

Because NSSE provides rich, reliable information on student learning behavior and effective educational practice, colleges and universities have found many uses for survey results:

  • Accountability and transparency
  • Accreditation self-studies
  • Alumni outreach
  • Assessment and improvement
  • Benchmarking
  • Communications with stakeholders
  • Faculty and staff development
  • General education reform
  • Grant proposals, applications, and progress reports
  • Institutional advancement
  • Institutional research
  • Retention and completion studies
  • State system performance reporting

Learn about innovative and accessible ways institutions, faculty, staff, and others use their data to improve the undergraduate experience.

Lessons from the Field

Using NSSE Data is an introductory guide describing approaches to using NSSE results and reports.

Using NSSE Data

Lessons from the Field

Since NSSE’s inception, the project has collected hundreds of rich examples of institutions putting student engagement results to use. These are described in depth in multiple volumes of Lessons from the Field.

Explore our multi-volume growing repository of instructive and inspiring stories of institutions' evidence-based improvement initiatives and practical uses of NSSE data to enhance undergraduate teaching and learning.

NSSE Data Use in Brief

Our new series—NSSE Data Use in Brief—focuses on how institutions utilize NSSE data to improve specific student outcomes.

Institutional examples highlight approaches to converting data to action in ways that promote student success.

Collectively, they illustrate (a) the benefit of sharing results widely, (b) the utility of linking NSSE data to other sources, and (c) the value of using data to address real campus problems and issues. These accounts demonstrate how NSSE’s diagnostic, actionable information can catalyze vital, sometimes challenging conversations on campus about the quality of education for its undergraduates.

Institution Website Displays of NSSE Results

Visit college and university websites featuring exemplary displays of NSSE results in institutionally modified, accessible formats designed for different audiences.

Search Tool for Examples of NSSE, FSSE, and BCSSE Data Use

Search our database of more than 500 institutional examples of data use by keyword, institution name, time frame, Carnegie classification, and accreditation organization.

Using NSSE Data – Institutional Report and Annual Results

Read institutional examples in the sections "Using NSSE Data" in the Institutional Report and "Examples of Data Use" in Annual Results.

What Lessons Have We Learned About Using NSSE Data?

Based on the collective experience of NSSE users, we offer the following suggestions for incorporating NSSE data into institutional improvement efforts:

  • Encourage faculty and staff to adopt a student engagement perspective by explaining its potential for improving teaching and learning.
  • Report and share results in ways that increase understanding of collegiate quality and promote improvement efforts in all institutional sectors.
  • Confirm the validity, reliability, and other indicators of NSSE data quality by reviewing NSSE’s Psychometric Portfolio.
  • Drill down to your institution’s department- or unit-level data, made accessible through NSSE census administration and detailed in the Major Field Report.
  • Link NSSE results to other information about the student experience and complementary initiatives to extend the insights to campus improvement efforts.
  • Combine numeric data and statistical comparisons with verbal explanations to facilitate interpretation of results.
  • Examine results from multiple perspectives including normative comparisons that may confirm or challenge assumptions about performance relative to other institutions.
  • Build campus teams and institutional consortia on topics of mutual interest to increase the likelihood of success in policy and practice changes.