National Survey of Student Engagement


UCORE is bookended by a foundational first-year experience [ROOT] course and a senior capstone [CAPS] course. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) collects information 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.

For UCORE assessment, NSSE questions provide indirect evidence of student learning on up to six of WSU’s Undergraduate Learning Goals: Critical & Creative Thinking, Information Literacy, Communication, Quantitative Reasoning, Diversity, and Depth, Breadth, & Integration of Learning (NSSE questions mapped to Information Literacy are not part of the standard NSSE instrument and are only administered as part of certain topical modules).


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, substantially 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 questions provide biennial indirect evidence of student learning on up to six of WSU’s Undergraduate Learning Goals at the first-year and senior levels. Click on the links below for recent summaries of selected NSSE results mapped to the WSU Undergraduate Learning Goals in the context of the UCORE curriculum. For more summaries of NSSE results in the context of UCORE assessment, see NSSE Results.

Note: NSSE also provides participating institutions with a variety of reports. WSU’s complete current and historic NSSE results are available on IR’s NSSE survey webpage.

Uses of Assessment

Visual depiction of the NILOA Transparency Framework Use of Student Learning Evidence Component.

In concert with the UCORE Director, the UCORE Committee and Subcommittee for Assessment review NSSE results following each administration. NSSE results are also reviewed by university leadership and 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 undergraduate education.