How to Survey Student Engagement

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Once again U.S. News is going to ask about 550 colleges and universities who participated in the 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement  to supply us with some of their results. Why is U.S. News collecting NSSE data? The goal of NSSE is to help schools see how engaged their students are in activities that lead to learning. U.S. News is committed to seeking and making this kind of important college accountability information available to the greatest extent possible.

In September 2006, the report from the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which is seeking to improve colleges’ accountability for how well their students learn, called for the collection and publication of NSSE results. As we reported in a cover story this spring, many other noted higher education experts also have said that NSSE data should be used to measure the student experience and the quality of the undergraduate experience.

Many critics of the U.S. News rankings have said that NSSE data provide a much better alternative to the information that U.S. News publishes. U.S. News thinks that both kinds of information--rankings and NSSE--are highly valuable and that is why we are trying to collect more data from NSSE. The problem has been that fewer than 25 percent of the schools that participate in NSSE each year supply U.S. News with their results. The only way we can get this NSSE information is if a college provides it to us: Schools participate in NSSE on the condition that they have the choice of making their results public or not. We would like to ask the readers of this blog to encourage the schools that participated in the 2006 NSSE to respond to our survey requesting their NSSE data. A list of those schools can be found here.

U.S. News is now the largest publisher of NSSE data. The results from the schools that gave us their 2000 through 2004 NSSE data can be seen here. The NSSE data that U.S. News is about to start collecting will be published online on Aug. 17, 2007.