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Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement UCORE Assessment

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National Survey of Student Engagement

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Introduction

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) annually collects information at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities about first-year and senior student participation in activities and programs that promote their learning and personal development. NSSE has been in operation since 2000 and has been used at more than 1,500 colleges and universities in the US and Canada. More than 90% of participating intuitions administer the survey on a periodic basis, generally every 2-3 years.

UCORE is bookended by a required first-year course [ROOT] and a senior capstone experience [CAPS]. All UCORE-designated courses require students to demonstrate Critical & Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, and Written Communication, while Oral Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, Diversity, and Depth, Breadth & Integration of Learning are advanced in UCORE courses as appropriate to the designator (see UCORE’s Curriculum webpages for more information). Questions on the NSSE survey provided indirect evidence of student learning on six of WSU’s Seven Learning Goals of Undergraduate Education (Critical & Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, Diversity, and Depth, Breadth, & Integration of Learning). Note: NSSE questions mapped to Information Literacy are not part of the standard NSSE instrument and are only administered as part of certain topical modules.

Assessment

Visual depiction of the NILOA Transparency Framework Current Assessment Activities Component.NSSE assesses the extent to which first-year and senior students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. At WSU, NSSE is offered to all first-year and senior students on all WSU campuses every other spring. With the census administration, students are recruited via email (i.e., students receive a survey invitation and reminders by email). The Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE), in collaboration with the Office of Institutional Research (IR), coordinates the administration of NSSE at WSU.

The NSSE instrument, updated in 2013, collects information in five categories: (1) participation in dozens of educationally purposeful activities, (2) institutional requirements and the challenging nature of coursework, (3) perceptions of the college environment, (4) estimates of educational and personal growth since starting college, and (5) background and demographic information. Participating institutions may also append up to two Topical Modules – short sets of questions on designated topics that allow for deeper exploration of important areas based on campus needs. 

Evidence of Student Learning

Visual depiction of the NILOA Transparency Framework Evidence of Student Learning Component.NSSE provides participating institutions with a variety of reports. WSU’s current and historic NSSE results are available on IR’s NSSE survey webpage

Questions on the NSSE survey provide indirect evidence of student learning on six of WSU’s Learning Goals at the first-year and senior levels. Click on the links below for current and past summaries of selected NSSE results mapped to the WSU Learning Goals in the context of the UCORE curriculum.

As with any voluntary survey, response rates and the presence of non-response bias should be considered when evaluating NSSE results. Low response rates present a concern regarding the accuracy of the results as low response rates may impact how representative the results are. In other words, there is concern that those who did not respond (non-respondents) may have different views than those who did respond and therefore the results are not representative of the entire group.

Uses of Assessment

Visual depiction of the NILOA Transparency Framework Use of Student Learning Evidence Component.The UCORE subcommittee for assessment and university leadership review NSSE results following each administration. NSSE results are also disaggregated for undergraduate academic degree programs, colleges, and campuses to provide information about the student perspective to help continually improve the learning experience for students. NSSE reports provide participating institutions with results that compare their students’ responses with those of students at self-selected groups of comparison institutions. Universities can use their NSSE results to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience that can be improved through changes in policy and practice. 

Below are some examples of how student learning evidence from NSSE contributes to decision making intended to support student learning and quality educational programs, including general education.

  • Using National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Results at Multiple Levels to Improve the Student Experience

    The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) provides valuable data at WSU for undergraduate academic degree programs, departments, colleges, campuses and the university. NSSE results provide degree programs, departments and colleges with information about the student perspective to help continually improve the learning experience for students. WSU students’ NSSE responses have also helped the university understand what is going well in terms of student engagement, and areas that could improve. 

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