Q & A: What Students Need to Know about the NSSE

Selected GW students are encouraged to participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement.

March 01, 2018

A randomly selected sample of George Washington University freshmen and seniors have been invited to complete the National Survey of Student Engagement, or NSSE, which aims to improve the undergraduate student experience by evaluating how students spend their time in school and what they gain from attending their university.

The NSSE explores the quality of education by asking students about their experiences, their engagement in their academic pursuits and internships, interaction with faculty, staff and other students, and involvement in extracurricular and off-campus activities.

University administrators explain what students need to know about NSSE:

Q: What is NSSE?
A:  The National Survey of Student Engagement, commonly pronounced “Nessie,” is a national survey specially designed for undergraduate students to provide information about their experiences, including views about the quality of their education, the skills and perspectives they are gaining as a result of their education and how they spend their time. The survey has a broad reach, with hundreds of colleges and universities of all types and sizes participating each year.

Q: Why are only freshmen and seniors asked to complete it?
A:  Experiences of freshman and senior students are quite different at most colleges, and what happens in upper-level courses in a student’s major is especially distinctive. These variations will be captured by asking students about their experiences at two points in their academic careers to paint a fair picture of the overall collegiate experience. This will also help adjust for the fact that students who continue through to their senior year have generally had more successful experiences than those who do not at any given institution.

Q: How can selected students complete the survey?
A:  The invitation to participate, including a link to the survey, will be emailed to a randomly selected sample of students at the beginning of March. All students’ responses are confidential, and no student will be associated with a specific response. Rather, findings will be summarized across all GW participants.

Q: Why is it important for the selected students to complete the NSSE?

A:  Those selected are strongly encouraged to complete the survey and make their views and experiences known. Their perspectives provide important information about what students think about their undergraduate experience, the kinds of activities in which they engage and how students are benefiting from their time at GW. This information helps GW identify areas that are working well and areas that could be enhanced, and provides insight into how we can improve the experiences of future generations of undergraduates.

Q: How are the survey results used?

A:  The most important way the results will be used is for GW to learn about its students and where it should focus attention to enhance the undergraduate experience. NSSE also allows institutions to compare results with other institutions, and the comparative data provides invaluable information about how we measure up to other similar institutions.