NSSE 2008 Benchmarks

Decades of higher education research show that student engagement in the educational process is a central component of student learning. NSSE, the National Survey of Student Engagement, was designed to measure the extent to which undergraduate students actively participate in their educational experience. The survey is given to first-year students and seniors. Five "NSSE Benchmarks" are based on responses to 42 survey questions, grouped to address specific themes of engagement:

  • Level of Academic Challenge - How much does the student prepare in advance for class, read assigned books, write papers and reports, work harder than he or she expected?
  • Active and Collaborative Learning - How much does the student contribute to class discussions, work with classmates outside of class, participate in community-based projects, make presentations in class?
  • Student-Faculty Interaction - How much time does the student spend with faculty talking about grades and assignments, discussing ideas outside of class, working on research projects?
  • Enriching Educational Experiences - How much does the student student interact with students of different backgrounds, participate in co-curricular activities, internships and fieldwork?
  • Supportive Campus Environment - How much does the campus facilitate good relationships, provide opportunities for social interaction and for academic success?

The table below compares NSSE 2008 benchmark values for freshmen and seniors with the national averages.

Benchmark USD   
Level of Academic Challenge 56.3 52.9 62.4 56.5
Active and Collaborative Learning 45.0 42.5 55.7 50.8
Student-Faculty Interaction 37.2 34.6 49.6 42.3
Enriching Educational Experiences 29.7 27.5 51.5 40.4
Supportive Campus Environment 60.8 61.1 59.6 58.0

Note: NSSE is not administered every year at USD.