NSSE is a college student survey that assesses the extent to which students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. Per its sponsoring organization, "NSSE was specifically designed to assess the extent to which students are engaged in effective educational practices and what they gain from their college experiences. Voluminous research on college student development shows that the time and energy students devote to educationally purposeful activities is the single best predictor of their learning and personal development. Therefore, the main content of the NSSE instrument represents student behaviors that are highly correlated with many desirable learning and personal development outcomes of college".
NSSE has become an important assessment tool in higher education. In 2010 over 560 colleges, including RMU, participated in NSSE. About 400,000 college students took the NSSE in spring 2010 including 355 RMU freshmen and 329 RMU seniors. The 2010 administration of NSSE was RMU's third participation in this survey.
As expected, RMU's results showed both strengths and areas in need of improvement. Some aspects of RMU's Communications Skills Program were reflected in the students' positive perceptions of their presentation and speaking skills as well as their ability to work in teams. Critical thinking and inclusion of diverse perspectives were among the areas perceived as being in need of improvement. One finding that is consistent with all prior surveys is a huge differential between the amount of time that RMU students work off-campus for pay vs. all comparison groups. This off-campus workload affects the amount of time that RMU's students have available for collegiate activities and campus interaction.
RMU's 2010 NSSE results have been shared with its senior administrators, Deans and with the faculty of several schools. RMU managers and faculty are examining the results (both aggregate and at the departmental levels) to look for anomalies that can be addressed in order to improve students' RMU experience. RMU is currently participating in the spring 2012 administration of NSSE.