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Using NSSE to Answer Assessment Questions. Regional User’s Workshop October 2005. Shimon Sarraf Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University Bloomington. “NESSIE”. Overview. Why should “engagement” be assessed Assessment Techniques with NSSE data Group Exercise and Discussion.

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Using NSSE to Answer Assessment Questions

Regional User’s Workshop

October 2005

Shimon Sarraf

Center for Postsecondary Research, Indiana University Bloomington

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  • Why should “engagement” be assessed

  • Assessment Techniques with NSSE data

  • Group Exercise and Discussion

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Why should engagement be assessed?

Because individual effort and involvement are the critical determinants of college impact, institutions should focus on the ways they can shape their academic, interpersonal, and extracurricular offerings to encourage student engagement.

Pascarella & Terenzini, How College Affects Students, 2005, p. 602

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Who says engagement is important?

Quality of Effort (Pace)

Student Involvement (Astin)

Social and Academic Integration (Tinto)

Good Practices in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson)

Student Engagement (Kuh)

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Assessment Approaches

  • Normative - compares your students’ responses to those of students at other colleges and universities.

  • Criterion - compares against a predetermined value or level appropriate for your students, given your institutional mission, size, curricular offerings, funding, etc.

  • Longitudinal – compare your average scores over time

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Assessment with NSSE Data

  • Descriptive displays of engagement patterns by any number of student characteristics

    • Use individual items and/or scales

  • Year-to-year tracking of student engagement

  • Multivariate models for retention, degree attainment, grades, other outcomes

  • Special peer comparisons with aspirational, regional, and mission-related institutions

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Descriptive Analysis

  • Comparisons by Student Background

    • Minority Students

    • First Generation College Student

  • Comparisons by Enrollment Characteristics

    • Greek

    • Athletes

    • College and/or Department

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Approaches to Descriptive Analysis

  • Most valued activities

    What is most valued at your institution, in departments, what does the data show?

  • Investigate “Nevers”

    Work on reducing or eliminating reports by students of never doing specific engagement activities.

  • How much variation?

    Box & Whiskers

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Descriptive Analysis

Responses of Seniors by Major

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Descriptive Analysis

Responses of Seniors by Major

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T-test: p<.000; Effect Size: -.29

Descriptive Analysis

Seniors Scale Scores by Transfer Status

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Data Consideration: Disaggregating Results

  • Experience indicates that survey results are most likely to be used when the results are disaggregated by specific program or unit (e.g., college or department).

  • Targeted oversamples of specific units may be warranted.

    • Sampling error statistics may not be a good indicator of data quality with smaller units.

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Comparisons Across Years

FY Student Responses to Stu-Fac Items by Year

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Comparisons Across Years

FY and Senior Stu-Fac Scale Scores by Year

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Comparisons Across Years

FY Scores on Four Scales by Year

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Multivariate Modeling State

Regression model predicting grades at the end of the first year.

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Multi-equation Modeling State

A structural equation model explaining longitudinal relationships that lead to FY grades.




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Special Peer Comparisons State

Selecting a peer group

By mission

By size

By department

By Race

By Locale

Current or Aspirant Peers

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Special Peer Comparisons State

Standard Frequency Report with Selected Peer Group

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Living on-campus State


Special Peer Comparisons

Carnegie Group

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Special Peer Comparisons State

Student Level Benchmark Report

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Special Peer Comparisons: Student Distributions State

  • First-year academic challenge scores

  • Are these two schools the same?

  • Same median benchmark score

  • Different range of scores

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Standard error of mean (precision of estimate) State

Non-response bias

Weighting your sample to look like the population

Comparability of survey items year-to-year

Use other assessment techniques (i.e., focus groups, other surveys) to validate your findings—NSSE is but one source of assessment information

Data Considerations

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NSSE Consortium State

  • 6 or more institutions sharing comparative data

  • Great way to add value to participation

  • Often times mission specific

  • Ability to ask additional questions

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Assessment Exercise : StateDepartment-Level Analysis

  • Scenario

    • Nesseville State University is preparing for an upcoming accreditation related to its engineering program

    • The college was encouraged to incorporate more “student voice” into their educational outcomes assessment

    • The University Provost and College Dean have worked to increase buy-in for using NSSE to collect information

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Assessment Exercise : StateDepartment-Level Analysis

  • Concerns to Address

    • Faculty are concerned that the Engineering College places too little emphasis on challenging and engaging pedagogical practice

    • The Dean is concerned that some of the departments are not preparing their students for life after graduation as well as others

    • The Provost would like to know how NSU engineering students compare to Engineering students nationwide

    • In previous Campus Surveys Engineering students have voiced dissatisfaction with their undergraduate experience

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Assessment Exercise : StateDepartment-Level Analysis

  • Building the Analysis

    • In submitting their population file, Nesseville State University included an extra variable to identify Engineering students and their departments within the College

    • Nesseville State indicated that they wished to oversample all Engineering seniors not identified for the random institutional sample

    • NSU constructed several NSSE student-level scales to use as a basis for their analysis, as well as requested a special analysis from NSSE to get normative data

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Assessment Exercise : StateDepartment-Level Analysis

  • What are some patterns that are evident in these results?

  • Were the expressed stakeholder concerns confirmed?

  • What differences are notable among departments?

  • What are some other sources of data that would be ideal to shed light on these results?

  • What additional analyses would you want to conduct?

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Using NSSE to Answer Assessment Questions State

Shimon Sarraf

Research Analyst

Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research

1900 East 10th Street

Eigenmann Hall, Suite 419

Bloomington, IN 47406

Ph: 812-856-2169

[email protected]