National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)

Frequently Asked Questions


What is The National Survey of Student Engagement? 

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is a questionnaire designed to collect information about your undergraduate experience, including your views about the quality of your education and how you spend your time. The survey, administered by the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University, includes questions about your interactions with faculty and fellow students, and your experiences with diverse perspectives, academic advising, and other areas of the university that contribute to your learning. Each year, hundreds of colleges and universities of all types and sizes participate in the survey. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has participated in the survey for many years in order to understand the experiences of first-year students and seniors.

How did you get my name?

At VCU, all first-year undergraduate students and seniors are invited to take the survey. 

Why should I complete the survey?

Because your experience matters! VCU needs to know what you think of your undergraduate experience, the kinds of activities in which you engage, and how you are benefiting from your studies. This information helps faculty and administrators identify the areas that can and should be improved to make sure you get the most out of your undergraduate experience. By participating in the survey, you have an opportunity to make VCU an even better place for students to learn. In fact, many of the common experiences and programs for first-year students at VCU were shaped, in part, by past student responses to NSSE. The survey is open until the end of spring semester, 2017.

Did you mention I could win a prize? 

In appreciation for participating, students who complete the survey by April 17, 2017 will automatically be entered in a random drawing to win one of 12 prizes. These prizes include Apple TV (1) (valued at $70), Beats by Dre™ Headphones (1) (valued at $360), Bluetooth speakers (1) (valued at $50), Fitbit Alta™ (1) (valued at $120), portable charger (2) (valued at $25 each), selfie stick (3) (valued at $20 each) and VCU flash drive (3) (valued at $20 each). Approximately 12,000 students have been invited to participate. The drawing will take place during the week of April 24, 2017. If you are selected as a winner you will be contacted by email containing further information about your prize. Additional drawings may be held for unclaimed prizes.

Will people see my personal responses?

No. Individual responses are not reported; they are combined and reported with other student responses.

How will the data be used?

The data will be used by faculty, advisors, student affairs staff, and others to understand what aspects of your undergraduate experience contribute most to your learning, and what aspects need to be improved. VCU will also use the information in reporting to external authorities, such as regional accrediting agencies, which are responsible to the general public for assuring quality in higher education.  In addition, the Center for Survey Research at Indiana University, which administers NSSE, will combine VCU student responses with responses of students at hundreds of other colleges and universities to develop annual reports about the collective experiences of undergraduate students nationwide.

I get surveyed all the time. How is this survey different?

You've heard the expression, “think globally, act locally?” This is a national project with immediate local implications; thousands of students are getting the same survey. And people will be interested in what undergraduate students as a group think about their education. But it's also important that VCU finds out directly from you about your experience and how it compares to the experiences of students at other colleges and universities. This will give your faculty and administrators an answer to the question: 'How are we doing?'       

Who do I contact if I have technical issues with opening the survey?

Please contact Connie Peyton at if you have any problems with the survey.