2017 National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) has launched

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is currently being administered to first-year students and seniors.  Students received their first email invitations to participate on February 15 and February 23.  They will receive three more invitations on March 7, March 21, and March 27.  I hope this blog will help you see why NSSE results are important to us and will lead you to encourage first year students and seniors to complete the NSSE.  In previous years, our response rate has around 25%, which is very close to the response rate at our regional and national peer institutions.

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), administered by universities throughout the nation, asks students about their level of engagement in purposeful and meaningful educational activities inside and outside of class.

FSU has administered the NSSE for nearly every year since it was launched in the year 2000.  NSSE results have always been important to our assessment efforts, but never more than now.

For the past three years, we have made campus-wide efforts to engage students in high-impact practices (HIPs), educational experiences that have an especially positive impact on engagement.  HIPs are marked by several important traits: they demand considerable time and effort, facilitate learning outside of the classroom, require meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourage collaboration with diverse others, and provide frequent and substantive feedback.

NSSE founding director George Kuh suggests that institutions should strive for all students to participate in at least two HIPs over the course of their undergraduate experience, one during the first year and one in the context of their major.

The link between high impact practices and increased engagement means that the increased focus on HIPs will lead to higher levels of engagement and improved academic performance.

The NSSE is administered to first-year students and seniors.  Our first-year students regularly report much higher participation in HIPs than all sets of peer institutions.  In 2016, for example, 77% of FSU first-year students reporting participating in at least one HIP, with 24% of them reporting participation in two or more HIPs.  At our southeast peer institutions, those numbers were 59% and 13%, respectively.

Fewer seniors have reported participation in HIPs than students at southeast peer institutions, but the difference is shrinking.  In 2014, for example, 79% of seniors reported participating in one HIP, with 43% reporting participation in at least two HIPs.   By 2016, these percentages for FSU Seniors increased to 85% and 50% respectively, compared to 85% and 61% at our southeast peer institutions.

Our efforts to increase HIPs are evidently making a difference.

The NSSE results are divided into ten different engagement indicators, one of which is Student-Faculty Interaction.  In 2014, our score for first-year students was very high compared to peer institutions, but our seniors reported significantly less outside-of-class engagement with faculty than students at peer institutions.  In 2014, every department had a low scores on this indicator.

This outcome for seniors was an important factor that led me to support a revision of the workload policy.  This engagement indicators asks students if they have a) had discussions about careers with faculty, b) worked on a project outside of class, c) have discussed topics and concepts with faculty outside of class, and d) discussed academic performance with a faculty. The new faculty workload policy is designed to help more faculty engage in these kinds of activities.

The NSSE is helping us identify areas of needed improvement and assess whether our strategies for improvement are making a positive difference.

Of course, low response rates undermine the reliability of the results.  So, please encourage students to complete the NSSE when they receive the email invitation.