New Insights on Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Engagement

New Insights on Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Engagement

Allison BrckaLorenz — NSSE has refined its questions about gender identity and sexual orientation to better understand the experiences of diverse populations. In response to feedback from students as well as scholars and institutional staff, questions about both have undergone several refinements. In a story featured in NSSE’s Annual Results: Engagement Insights: Survey Findings on the Quality of Undergraduate Engagement, NSSE examined the engagement and perceptions of support of gender variant students, those who identify with a gender other than man or woman, and of LGBQ+ students, those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, or other non-straight orientations.

Gender-variant students were more engaged in some activities, and less so in others. For example, one-third of gender-variant seniors had done research with a faculty member compared to a quarter of men and women, and a larger share of gender-variant seniors (44%) were student leaders compared to 36% of men and 39% of women. One finding of concern is that gender-variant students felt less supported by staff members who may influence their well-being outside the classroom.

LGBQ+ students were more engaged than their peers in reflective and integrative learning activities, such as including diverse perspectives in coursework and connecting learning to societal problems or issues. On the other hand, straight students had more positive interactions with others and felt more supported by their institution, although such differences were small.

See more details on this story and more findings from the 2017 administration of NSSE here.

Annual Results—Director’s Cut!

Not everything can be included in a publication as brief as the NSSE Annual Results. Here are some findings that didn’t make the final cut.

  • The percentage of students preferring not to respond to the sexual orientation item ranged from 0% to 37% at participating institutions
  • Straight and LGBQ+ students have more positive interactions and feel more supported than students who prefer not to respond to the item about sexual orientation