Colorado State University-Pueblo looks to improve the quality of university life and academics for students, via the National Survey of Student Engagement.
NSSE is a survey instrument used to measure the level of student participation at universities and colleges. More than 1,500 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada use it, according to the NSSE website.
The survey, which is conducted every four years, specifically targets first-year students and students with a senior standing, so the survey is intended to show change from the time a student arrives as a freshman to when a student is graduating as a senior.
The survey collects information about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development, according to Erin Frew, assistant provost for assessment and student learning.
Results from the survey provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college.
Student engagement represents two critical features of collegiate quality. First is the amount of time and effort students put into their academics. The second is how the university utilizes resources and organizes the curriculum to improve student learning.
Institutional assessment such as surveys and management of the electronic campus assessment reporting system is conducted through the provost’s office. The provost’s office uses the information from the survey to plan and improve the quality of student life at CSU-Pueblo, especially in academics.
The data is also used to identify aspects of the student’s experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices.
By conducting the survey every four years, the administration can look at the results and see differences between the two-targeted groups over time.
The challenge facing the university is to maximize the response rate from the survey, according to Frew. The response rate for the 2010 NSSE was 32 percent. The goal for 2014 is to have a 50 percent response rate.
The survey is sent to students through the university email, and from there students are directed to a link to the NSSE website where they complete the survey.
Finding and giving students an incentive to complete the survey is a challenge the administration faces.
“If it would help improve the education of future students then I would take the survey, even if it didn’t help me,” said Ashleigh Rhoades, a senior history major.
However, not all students may feel the same way, so in an attempt to reach a 50 percent response rate, the university plans to use a number of strategies.
Students will be targeted not only through their campus emails, but also in their classrooms and across campus. The university will most likely give students incentive to do and complete the survey by giving out prizes.
The ultimate goal of the survey to improve the overall student experience and to “use the information to plan and improve courses and student services, and make a better experience for all students at CSU-Pueblo,” Frew said.