Potential Project Description for 2008-09


Title: Surveys of Student Engagement
Faculty: Mary M. Walczak, Evaluation and Assessment

Over the past seven years, St. Olaf College has participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) four times, including Spring 2008. We have also participated in a pilot Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE), as well the first full launch of that survey in Fall 2007. In addition, this spring for the first time we participated in the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) with a relatively small group of faculty, as a way to assess the future usefulness of the instrument on our campus. And, finally, we conducted a number of focus group discussions of both students and faculty after the administrations of the surveys this spring. We would like to study this accumulated data more closely. In particular we have the following questions; which questions are addressed by the CIR will depend on the interests and abilities of the students involved:

1. What changes do we see over time for the Class of 2008, who took both the BCSSE and NSSE as first-year students, as well as the NSSE again as seniors?

2. What can we learn from our first-year students' responses this year: their expectations during Week One on the BCSSE and their follow-up responses this spring on the NSSE?

3. Do the comments from the student focus group discussions help us understand the data from NSSE any better? Do we think St. Olaf students may be interpreting questions differently than students on other campuses? Are there differences in interpretation between first-years and seniors?

4. What differences are there between the faculty expectations and perceptions of student engagement, as expressed on the FSSE, and the responses from students on the NSSE?

5. The purpose of administering the FSSE and conducting the faculty discussion groups about it was primarily an evaluation of the instrument. Do the survey results and comments from these groups provide insights about the instrument and any consensus about the future usefulness of the survey if it were used more broadly on campus?