EDU National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Support

Following recommendations of the NSSE Strategy Task Force, the EDU is supporting faculties in analyzing, discussing and moving forward with data from the 2014 University of Calgary National Survey of Student Engagement.

In May 2015, an action team (Patti Dyjur, Robin Mueller, Carol Berenson, Patrick Kelly, Natasha Kenny, Nahum Arguera, Frances Kalu) was established in the Educational Development Unit (EDU) to support faculties in their analysis and interpretation of their qualitative and quantitative NSSE results. Over the summer of 2014, the NSSE Action Team consulted with Associate Deans (Teaching and Learning) of each faculty to determine their NSSE data analysis and support needs. During that time, the EDU’s NSSE Research Analyst (Nahum Arguera) produced reports for each faculty, to enable them to further analyze their data related to each of the NSSE engagement indicators, and to help faculties compare their data to others within the University of Calgary and across the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

The NSSE survey was administered in the following faculties:

  • Cumming School of Medicine
  • Haskayne School of Business
  • Werklund School of Education
  • Faculty of Science
  • Schulich School of Engineering
  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Social Work
  • Faculty of Nursing
  • University of Calgary in Qatar
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
  • Faculty of Kinesiology

The EDU will host three retreats between September 2015 and May 2016, to provide faculties with the opportunity to share knowledge and strategies on how they are moving forward to enhance student engagement in response to their analysis of the NSSE survey data.

Following the conclusion of the NSSE retreats the NSSE Action Team will continue to foster student engagement across campus throughout the 2017 year by highlighting Taylor Institute workshops, resources, and initiaitves that support student engagment (Fostering Student Engagement). These can include the NSSE Action Map, course design workshops, Open Classroom Week, and teaching online workshops.

Related Documentation and Materials

A variety of resources are available to support the NSSE process on the Taylor Institute Teaching Community (NSSE Resources on Taylor Institute Teaching Community).

Information related to High Impact Practices (NSSE High Impact Practices)

2015/16 NSSE Retreats

The goal of the first NSSE retreat (hosted on September 2015) was to provide an interactive opportunity for sharing information about what faculties have learned about your faculty’s NSSE data, your key areas of focus and how you might move forward from this point (NSSE Retreat Slides, September 2015).

The goal of the second NSSE retreat (hosted on January, 2016) was to reflect and share how faculties are moving forward with the NSSE results, and to leave with one or two ideas or strategies that can be used to move forward to enhance student engagement in faculties.

NSSE Retreat Slides, January, 2016

Download (PDF, 958KB)

Action Plan Handout from 2016 NSSE Retreat

Download (DOCX, 30KB)

The third retreat was hosted on April 2016. The goal of this retreat was to provide an opportunity for faculty members to give their feedback on a student engagement mapping initiative. The idea to map out engagement initiatives across campus was feedback given by the faculty during the second retreat. This map is an attempt to provide students, staff, and faculty with a resource on initiatives that occur throughout the campus.

NSSE Retreat #3 Slides (with preliminary engagement map), April, 2016

Download (PDF, 659KB)

Assessment Strategies and Results

At the September retreat, faculty generated ideas for moving forward with actions on how their faculty could improve student engagement (Outcomes of Small Group Brainstorm of Ideas for Moving Forward)

Ideas for Moving Forward Brainstorm

At the January retreat faculties identified their successes for engaging students at the clasrrom, department, and/or faculty level; discussed further opportunities for supporting student engagement within their faculty; and, identified key results that they would like to see in the 2017 NSSE results.

Summary notes from January, 2016 retreat

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The feedback from the evaluation form from the first retreat, indicated that most faculty (72%) felt more confident in moving forward with their faculty’s NSSE data following this retreat, and 94% of those who respondent to the evaluations rated the overall quality of the retreat as good to excellent.   The qualitative comments revealed that faculty were thrilled to share information and ideas with others, and to discover what other faculties were doing to improve student engagement.  Others acknowledged that they needed time to process and discuss how they would translate these ideas into practice within the context of their faculties. In terms of improvement, they felt that they were inspired by what they had seen, and wanted more time to brainstorm ideas for taking action in their faculties. They also wanted opportunities to work in small groups with members from outside of their discipline.

The feedback from the evaluations from the second retreat, indicated that most faculty (71%) felt more confident moving forward with their faculty’s NSSE data following this retreat, and 100% of those who respondent to the evaluation said it was an effective opportunity to share with colleagues.  The qualitative comments revealed that faculty found that the most useful part of the retreat was the opportunity to share information and identify common themes with other faculty.  They hoped that future retreats would provide opportunities for more focused sharing, and opportunities for discussing what the institution is doing as a whole to support NSSE, mapping initiatives for enhancing student engagement across multiple levels (e.g. course, program, institution), and thinking ahead to the 2017 NSSE process.

Those faculty members that provided feedback on the map during the April retreat suggested that it was a great starting point, categorization was helpful, and that it was a great opportunity for an interactive space. Many faculty members saw the value in usage of the map in strategic planning processes and courses. They also see the opportunity for many groups to use it across the institute.

Summarized Faculty Feedback on the Student Engagement Map

Download (PDF, 82KB)

Based on this feedback the research analyst in the EDU developed an online representation/map of some of the initiatives and programs that allow students to be engaged across the institute, faculty, and course levels at the University of Calgary. This map categorizes these initiatives primarily by the four focal engagement indicator themes measured through the NSSE. These themes are: Academic Challenge, Campus Environment, Experiences with Faculty, and Learning with Peers. Course level engagement is primarily themed across the different high-impact practices that are highlighted in the NSSE. The vision of this map is to provide students and staff with information and resources on programs and initiatives that occur throughout campus. This site will be a site that will be constantly growing and changing as more exemplar initiatives, programs, and courses are highlighted across our community.

Additionally, in order to continually strengthen student engagement across campus the NSSE Action team launched a resource on the Taylor Institute website called Fostering Student Engagement. This resource highlights initiatives and workshops supported by the Taylor Institute that contribute in furthering student engagement.

Reflection and Impact

The main goals of the EDU’s NSSE Action Group is to support faculties in analyzing, presenting and interpreting their NSSE results, and to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in meaningful conversation related to how they are using the NSSE results to strengthen student engagement at the University of Calgary.  The results from the first retreat indicated that faculty appreciate the opportunity to share big ideas related to enhancing student engagement.  They appreciated the 2 hour time retreat frame.  Moving forward, we will provide additional time for them to engage in small interdisciplinary working group discussions that move them beyond their NSSE data, and allow them to explore actions to strengthen student engagement in their faculty.  This occurred in the second retreat, although faculty did identify the need to engage in more focused discussion related to what is happening on campus. As we continue to support the NSSE process, we will provide more opportunities for focused sharing, mapping and identifying strategies for enhancing student engagement within and across the institution.  The EDU has also intentionally supported the sharing and engagement of the NSSE results through the curriculum review process.  In collaboration with the curriculum development consultants (Patti Dyjur, Frances Kalu), the NSSE research analyst incorporated faculty and department NSSE results as a tool to inform programs and curricula across the university. Through this process many faculty members engaged with NSSE results along with other data to highlight successes and areas of improvement across programs. The intention of incorporating the NSSE in this process was to further widen the scope of use of NSSE results and to improve student learning and experiences at the University of Calgary.

The response from faculty and staff on the NSSE Action Map has been largely positive throughout the development of this resource. Associate Deans Teaching and Learning respond to this tool as a great resource to highlight available programs and initiatives and to be able to provide students with opportunities to learn about support and engagement at the University of Calgary. However, the vision of this map is to not only provide a resource for students but also to develop a culture of collaboration across disciplines. It will become a tool for faculty and staff to share and learn from colleagues across campus as we work to enhance student engagement at the University of Calgary.

The EDU NSSE Action Team is committed to continue to support the next cycle of the NSSE (2017 cycle). The NSSE research analyst will continue to develop relationships with units and working groups across campus in order to develop action plans and strategies to analyze the new data when they are made available.

Project collaborators: Patti Dyjur, Robin Mueller, Carol Berenson, Patrick Kelly, Natasha Kenny, Nahum Arguera

ePortfolio post authors: Grace Whitehead, Nahum Arguera, Natasha Kenny, D’Arcy Norman

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