Construction of the NSSE Benchmarks
To represent the multi-dimensional nature of student engagement at the national, sector, and institutional levels, NSSE developed five indicators or Benchmarks of Effective Educational Practice:
- Level of Academic Challenge (LAC)
- Active and Collaborative Learning (ACL)
- Student-Faculty Interaction (SFI)
- Enriching Educational Experiences (EEE)
- Supportive Campus Environment (SCE)
The individual items used in the construction of these benchmarks were created with a blend of theory and empirical analysis. Principal components analyses (oblique rotation) were used initially in this exploration, with theory and practice being used subsequently to inform and determine the final benchmark item groupings. As in the past, only randomly sampled cases are included in the calculation of institutional benchmarks.
The construction of the NSSE Benchmarks has four steps. First, all items that contribute to a benchmark are converted to a 0 - 100 point scale. For the ‘enriching’ items (question 7 on the survey), those students who indicated that they had already "done" the activity receive a score of 100, while those students who "plan to do," "do not plan to do," or who "have not decided" to do the activity receive a 0. Other items are converted as would be expected. For example, items with four response options (e.g., never, sometimes, often, very often) are recoded with values of 0, 33.33, 66.67, or 100.
Second, part-time student scores are adjusted on four of the Level of Academic Challenge items (READASGN, WRITEMID, WRITESML, ACADPR01). For each item, a ratio is calculated by dividing the mean score of all full-time students by the mean score of all part-time students. Each part-time student's score on an item is multiplied by the corresponding ratio to get their adjusted score. Adjusted scores are limited so as not to exceed 100. More information about this part-time adjustment can be found here.
Third, student-level benchmark scores are created for each group of items by taking the mean of each student's scores. A mean was calculated for each student so long as they had answered three-fifths of the items in any particular benchmark.
Finally, institutional benchmarks are created by calculating weighted averages of the student-level scores for each class (first-year students and seniors). More information about weighting can be found here.
For a description of the benchmarks and lists of the component items, click here.
Click here to download the SPSS syntax used to construct the benchmarks.