National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

Some Canadian universities participate in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). I should know but don’t which Canadian colleges participate in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSE). However, CSSE is administered by a different organization anyway and no session was on offer at CIRPA so I thought I’d hear what Shimon Sarraf of the Center for Postsecondary Research in Bloomington, Indiana had to say about NSSE.

Side note: I’d stepped outside at lunch to take some pictures of the snow-covered mountains and met a few people who wanted me to take their photos. One turned out to be Shimon Sarraf who presented in this session. His comment: “We don’t have mountains like this in Indiana!”

NSSE focuses on behaviours more than perception than has a few about student perceptions. The intention (criticized by some) is for indirect process measures of student learning and development. Shimon had top-notch visual displays of data and concepts. Because about 95% of variation is within each institution (Maclean’s take note!), within-institution variation is informative. NSSE likes to use Box and Whisker charts to indicate not only equivalence of means but also the amount of variation between units in an institution (for example schools, departments or faculties). For example, on one measure, the means might be equivalent, but the range between 50th and 75th percentiles could be much wider for one of the units compared to another. A box and whisker chart displays this handily.

Shimon also provided a nifty display of valid (and not-so-valid) methods of multi-year analysis. based on a type of flow-chart with coded arrows and colour-coded smiley (or neutral or frowning) faces.

In terms of effect size, NSSE has moved to the following scale: 0.1=small; 0.3=medium; 0.5=large; 0.7=very large.

NSSE also provides some useful documents for interpreting results, such as an effect size guide, “lessons from the field“, and examples of university websites that display NSSE results.

Proliferation of provincial student education numbers

Miriam Kramer, Canadian Education Project Director of Higher Education Strategy Associates (formerly the Canadian branch of the Educational Policy Institute) gave a precise overview of the status of unique student identification numbers across Canada. She's involved in the MESA project (Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid). Her question is how can we use this data to serve students better.

No news to us BCers, but we're ahead of the pack with our Personal Education Numbers (PENs). Alberta (ASN) and Quebec (Code Permanent) are also leaders, although Quebec has little socio-demographic information (only language spoken at home). ID numbers are "in implementation" in Ontario, in planning in Newfoundland/Labrador, and in discussion in NU, NWT and MB.

BC of course has used PENs for the Student Transitions Project (mentioned in a previous post), and Alberta has used their IDs to study "turn-aways"–those applicants who were rejected by all institutions they applied to.

By the way, Miriam was the only presenter I heard who gave her Twitter ID: CanEdProject. I'm following!