For the first time, Carnegie Mellon's freshmen and seniors are able to join one million students from the United States and Canada in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).
The NSSE — pronounced 'nessie' — obtains information about the programs and activities that institutions provide for students' learning and personal development.
In addition to serving as a measuring stick for universities to gauge areas of the undergrad experience that can be improved, the survey sets a national benchmark on best practices for higher learning. The information is also useful for prospective students and their parents.
Carnegie Mellon students have been sent a web-based survey in their Andrew e-mail accounts and a follow-up reminder will be sent to students in the next few days. A strong response rate is crucial in establishing the validity of the results and eligible students are encouraged to respond.
Unlike third-party rankings, which are based on reputation, the survey results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and their thoughts on what's gained from the college experience.
As the survey's name suggests, the questions are designed to assess student-engagement levels for activities inside and outside the classroom. Additional items ask students to report on the number of hours per week they devote to schoolwork, extracurricular activities, employment and family matters. Others request the number of hours spent reading and writing.