Given the COVID-19 pandemic’s substantial impact on higher education, the content of NSSE 2021 will differ from previous years in several ways. Our aim is to ensure that institutions have a robust set of assessment tools to help them during this unique time. We will make a number of changes to the core survey instrument as well as to our Topical Module offerings.
Core. Three questions are being deleted from the core instrument—related to coming to class unprepared, attending art performances, and birth year—to make room for four new items related to effective teaching practices:
During the current school year, to what extent have your instructors done the following?
Response options: Very much, Quite a bit, Some, Very little
- Taught in a way that aligns with how you prefer to learn
- Reviewed and summarized key ideas and concepts
- Enabled you to demonstrate your learning through activities, assignments, quizzes, etc.
- Explained in advance the criteria for successfully completing your assignments
These new items are intended to more deeply explore student experiences across all course modalities (online, face-to-face, hybrid), reflecting an intentional decision to have one version of the survey that would apply to all students. To help identify students who study online or in a hybrid modality the following set of questions, revised from previous years, will be administered:
We want to know about the number of courses you have taken this year and how they have been delivered (in a classroom, online, or a combination). How many courses (not credit hours) have you taken at this institution this school year (2020–21)?
- Of those, how many have been entirely or almost entirely in a physical classroom? (Do not count hybrid or blended courses that routinely combine instruction in a physical classroom and online.)
- How many have been entirely or almost entirely online? (Do not count hybrid or blended courses that routinely combine instruction in a physical classroom and online.)
We will assume that any remaining courses have been hybrid or blended.
Colleges and universities will also be able to append to the core instrument their own end-of-survey student comment prompt as an alternative to the four standard prompts we provide.
Topical Modules. We are pleased to offer participating institutions the choice of three new Topical Modules that should have broad appeal, given the transforming higher education landscape:
- Coping with Covid will help institutions explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ educational experiences, mental wellness, and everyday life experiences.
- Experiences with Online Learning will be based in part on Quality Matters standards used for creating courses that are structured optimally and engage students in key ways.
- Career and Workforce Preparation represents a collaboration between NSSE and Strada Education Network to address current interest in how undergraduate education prepares students for work and careers.
To make more room for these new item sets, we are temporarily suspending Experiences with Information Literacy, and, as previously announced, the Learning with Technology Topical Module is being retired due to low participation.