NSSE Engages with National Advisory Board
Allison BrckaLorenz — Members of NSSE, FSSE, and BCSSE staff recently met with NSSE’s National Advisory Board to discuss important issues about higher education and the future of NSSE. After brief introductions, welcoming new members and recognizing the service of members whose terms are concluding, and an update from NSSE’s director, Alex McCormick, the board’s discussion focused on three large issues:
- Understanding and Communicating NSSE’s Value Proposition
At its inception, NSSE represented a new approach to gathering and disseminating information about collegiate quality and endeavored to change the conversation about quality in undergraduate education toward the opportunities and conditions that matter to student learning. After nearly two decades and wide adoption by bachelor’s-granting institutions, NSSE may have reached a stage of maturity that calls for new ways to market itself, promote participation, and otherwise get the message out about the benefits of collecting and acting on student engagement data. Conversation focused on how NSSE results could contribute to re-building trust in the value of higher education, the importance of continuing collaborations with higher education organizations, and thinking about what we have learned as we approach NSSE’s 20th birthday.
- Promoting Effective Use of Data and Results
From the beginning, NSSE has been about more than merely surveying students. It represents an agenda for improvement in undergraduate education. In addition to the reports and data provided, NSSE strives to facilitate effective data use in many ways. Conversations on this topic addressed the different models or approaches that institutions use in disseminating their data and results, how institutions signal what they value through incentives and resource allocation, changes in the role and function of institutional research, and that one of the most effective ways to promote data use is to start with a problem and then use the data to address it.
- Revisiting Our National Communications Strategy
Following a 2015 advisory board discussion of NSSE’s national communications strategy, NSSE made substantial changes to their Annual Results report (now called Engagement Insights), shortening it and focusing on key findings. NSSE also expanded its use of social media by developing the NSSE Sightings blog and increasing its presence on Facebook and Twitter. Discussions about communications centered on the value of consulting with media experts, telling fewer “big” stories in favor of more frequent smaller stories throughout the year responding to current issues, promoting storytelling in local media venues such as campus newspapers, and focusing even more on NSSE’s social media presence.
The meeting also included reporting from staff on operational details and recent developments at NSSE, BCSSE, and FSSE, as well as a report from Evelyn Waiwaiole on recent developments at the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
NSSE is grateful to the Advisory Board members for their dedication and good counsel!