The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) obtains, on an annual basis, information from hundreds of four-year colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items on The National Survey of Student Engagement represent empirically confirmed "good practices" in undergraduate education. That is, they reflect behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college.
Institutions use their data to identify aspects of the undergraduate experience inside and outside the classroom that can be improved through changes in policies and practices more consistent with good practices in undergraduate education. This information is also used by prospective college students, their parents, college counselors, academic advisers, institutional research officers, and researchers in learning more about how students spend their time at different colleges and universities and what they gain from their experiences.
More than 1300 different colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada have participated in NSSE since it was first administered in 2000. NSSE's widespread use has spawned several other nationally-used instruments including the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, and the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, all of which are supported through institutional participation fees.