On Monday, March 1, all first-year students and seniors at Washington State University will be asked by President Kirk Schulz to respond to the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) to help shape future programming at the institution.

The president’s message—delivered to students in an email sent from NSSE—kicks off a month-long campaign. Students will have four more chances to respond; emails will be sent to those who have not yet completed the survey on March 9, 15, 23, and 29. All who submit answers by April 15 will be eligible for a $100 gift card.

The campaign is the culmination of months of NSSE preparation, said Mary F. Wack, WSU vice provost for academic engagement. Administrators university-wide have discussed the importance of the survey, decided which modules of questions to ask on the survey, and planned how their campuses will encourage student participation.

In Pullman, for example, faculty are being tapped to inform students in classes that taking the NSSE has great importance at the university as well as at college and department levels. Systemwide, in addition to a link in the emails sent to students, the survey can also be accessed from a tile in the myWSU portal.

NSSE’s importance to WSU

“Students’ answers to NSSE questions in the past have led the university to create support for undergraduate research, more support for internships, and more study abroad opportunities, for example,” said Wack.

“We believe in the importance of student feedback and are always eager to learn how well we are engaging undergraduates in their educational and in our academic community. Responses are closely evaluated so we can work toward making WSU the best university possible.”

In 2021, NSSE topical modules will ask first-year and senior students about inclusiveness and engagement with cultural diversity, and first-year experiences and senior transitions.

Responses welcomed into May

“Students can take the survey on email reminder days or they can take it any time using the NSSE tile in myWSU, which is available into mid-May,” said Kimberly Green, director of the Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE), part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. Green leads the university-wide administration of the survey.

Biennial WSU results posted by IR

Green said that WSU is among hundreds of universities that employ NSSE surveys to poll their students and has participated in NSSE surveys every two years since 2000.  The university’s results are returned to WSU in late summer and posted on the WSU Office of Institutional Research (IR) website. Data from NSSE surveys as far back as 2008 are online.

Additional disaggregated results

IR and ACE also collaborate on additional data disaggregation and analysis for UCORE and for colleges and departments which have sufficient response rates from their senior majors.

Faculty participation

Faculty are being asked by ACE and by their colleges and departments to be more involved than ever before in promoting NSSE to classes with senior majors and first-year students.  UCORE Capstone [CAPS] instructors are also strongly encouraged to promote NSSE to their students.

“We’re providing PowerPoint slides and other messaging about NSSE for faculty to show to their classes and for departments and colleges to display where appropriate,” said Green. “By having colleges and departments communicate to students how important NSSE feedback is to them, we can improve response rates and get more valuable information on our students’ WSU experience.”

“In recent years, we’ve seen some departments promote NSSE in courses for their senior majors and get useful results back from the disaggregations that IR and ACE collaborate on,” Green said.

For more information and to access promotional materials, please visit the WSU NSSE website.

Participation goals

Across the board, WSU would always like to see students participate at higher levels to ensure representative results, said Green. For the 2019 survey, nearly 1,200 first-year students and 1,500 seniors participated in the NSSE.

“While we’d like to have more students provide us with information, we appreciate the input that every student gives.”