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National Survey of Student Engagement's (NSSE) benchmarks – one size fits all?

Nava Lerer (Director of the Office of Research, Assessment and Planning, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)
Kathryn Talley (Director of Institutional Research at TCS Education System, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 28 September 2010




Administrators of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) argue that the results from the five benchmarks, constructed from the survey's items, “produce a set of national benchmarks of good educational practice that participating schools are using to estimate the efficacy of their improvement efforts”. The objective of this paper is to show that any assessment of educational quality cannot be separated from students' expectations and goals.


Data are drawn from two sources: five years of NSSE data and Adelphi data. A quantitative approach was used to analyze the data.


While NSSE items are important indicators of experiences that certain types of students might be seeking and expect from their college, the benchmarks are supposed to provide an overall picture of colleges' educational practices.


This is an original work which was previously presented at the 2005 Northeast Association of Institutional Research annual conference.



Lerer, N. and Talley, K. (2010), "National Survey of Student Engagement's (NSSE) benchmarks – one size fits all?", On the Horizon, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 355-363.



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Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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