Major Field Report
The NSSE Major Field Report breaks down NSSE responses by up to eight categories of related majors within an institution and presents them alongside comparison group students in the same categories. By default NSSE uses eight categories of majors, but institutions have the option to customize these (see below). The Major Field Report has two sections:
- Major Field Report Part I provides a “within institution” report that lays out frequency and benchmark results within each major category side-by-side for all of an institution’s first-year students and seniors. An additional column for “overall” results is provided as a reference. The overall results will be identical to those found in the Institutional Report.
- Major Field Report Part II compares a given institution’s respondents in up to eight major categories against the same categories in their comparison groups. Like Part I, frequency and benchmark results will be provided for each category that contains a minimum number of respondents.
Why Look at Majors?
Decades of research on college students holds that student experiences and outcomes are more varied among students within institutions than between institutions. Thus, NSSE encourages institutions to examine internal variations in their students’ experiences. The Major Field Report is a model of what these analyses could look like. The Major Field Report also informs department-level improvements in teaching and learning. Deans, department chairs, and faculty may not derive much diagnostic value from institution-wide results. But when information for their schools or departments is known and can be compared to other majors on campus, it may get more traction.
Using the Major Field Report
The Major Field Report can be downloaded by participating institutions shortly after the delivery of the NSSE Institutional Report. Contacts are encouraged to identify areas of small and large differences in major fields within their institution and between their comparison groups. This is a useful exercise for all benchmarks and selected items of greatest interest/importance to an institution. Worksheets are available in the NSSE Facilitator’s Guide to guide campus discussions about these results.
Customizing Major Categories
Institutions now have the option to customize the major categories to match their profile of degrees offered. Institutions can regroup the 85 student-reported majors into as many as eight new categories via an online form in spring before their NSSE official reports are created. Institutions choosing not to customize their major categories receive NSSE’s eight major field categories by default.
NSSE imposes a minimum of five respondents for frequency distributions and twenty for benchmark comparisons. Major field groups that do not meet these requirements are not reported (i.e., the column is left blank in Part I and no Part II report is generated). Though five and twenty represent our minimum cut points, keep in mind that the Major Field Report, as with any statistical results, requires a sufficient number of students per category to produce reliable interpretations.