Using National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Results to Assess the Senior Experience (School of Molecular Biosciences)

Every two years, WSU participates in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to help assess student engagement in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. In collaboration with Institutional Research, ATL disaggregated 2017 WSU NSSE results by major for undergraduate academic degree programs and colleges, focusing on responses from seniors, intended to provide information about the student perspective to help continually improve the learning experience for WSU undergraduates.  Some programs also received disaggregated reports for 2014-15, as part of a pilot.

The School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB) has used the 2017 NSSE responses from their seniors to identify program strengths and set priorities for improvement, as well as corroborate the results of other assessment measures. 

In 2018, the SMB Undergraduate Studies Committee met to review 2017 NSSE results from their senior majors, alongside national NSSE data for seniors in life science majors at research intensive universities. Since NSSE is administered at hundreds of four-year colleges and universities nationwide, WSU programs can compare the NSSE responses from their senior majors to responses from all WSU seniors, in addition to seniors in similar majors at peer institutions. Examining peer data, for example, allows programs to identify strengths in a national context.

Reviewing these NSSE results helped the SMB program examine student engagement and experience in a variety of areas of interest, such as:

  • Participation in research experiences and other high impact practices
  • Opportunities to practice writing and students’ confidence in their abilities
  • Post-graduation plans

Additionally, the SMB program compared their NSSE results with the results of their internally developed senior exit survey and other available assessment data. “NSSE results helped our faculty confirm and expand our understanding of what we were learning from our senior exit survey,” explained Bill Davis, SMB’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education. The process of triangulating self-reported assessment data (to see if the same trends appear) can help increase the validity and credibility of the results.

For more information about NSSE at WSU and disaggregated NSSE results for academic programs, contact ATL staff.