Hey York U students, are you ready to NSSE?

National Student Survey on Engagement poster
The original poster for the 2014 survey that was developed by Communications & Public Affairs.

National Student Survey on Engagement poster

What did you like about your educational experience at York U? What could be done to help you learn better?

Starting Feb. 11 and continuing to March 31, thousands of first- and fourth-year York University students will be asked to take part in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), or “Nessie”. Through NSSE, they’ll be able to contribute their insight and have input into York University’s future direction.

The online survey, which takes between 20 and 30 minutes to complete, allows students in their first and final years of a four-year degree to offer their insight into what York U does well and what it could improve. It will be used to determine how much time and effort students put into educationally rewarding activities and to what degree York University facilitates this involvement.

“York University wants to be an evidence-based institution,” says Richard Smith, acting director, Office for Institutional Planning and Analysis (OIPA) at York University. “NSSE gives us the data to inform decisions on what issues we should focus on and to create and evaluate initiatives that improve academic quality and the student experience.”

The survey of first- and fourth-year students happens every three years. On Feb. 11, those students will receive an e-mail invitation from York’s president to participate in the survey. Each e-mail will have a custom link to the survey.

NSSE is conducted by the University of Indiana and includes a number of Ontario-specific questions. The survey responses will be analyzed and the results used to inform policy decisions at York University. “With a high enough response rate, we can look beyond the institution level to the faculty or even departmental level and have confidence that the data is representative,” says Smith. “It could also help us to understand educational issues that cut across faculties, such as for international vs domestic students or resident vs. commuter students.”

“First-year students should consider that their survey results will help us make improvements in their educational experience while they’re at York,” says Smith. “Fourth-year students can use the benefit of their experience to give thoughtful advice on how to help improve their university.”

Smith says that each student who takes the time to complete the survey will receive a virtual “Thank-you” coupon on their YUCard for a free latte at Starbucks (Keele campus) or Tim Hortons (Glendon campus), or they can use it to get a $5 York Lanes gift card. Students completing the survey will also be automatically entered in a draw for prizes. There are five $500 tuition Waivers, ten $25 YUCard top ups and ten $25 Keele/Glendon Bookstore coupons.

As well, OIPA and the NSSE working group at York U have challenged the individual Faculties to encourage participation in the survey.  “The Faculty with the highest participation rate will win the inaugural ‘NSSE Champion Cup’ and bragging rights until the next survey,” says Smith. Faculty NSSE results will be published on the York U NSSE website every Thursday at 2pm  for the duration of the survey.

Through the NSSE results, Smith says York U can celebrate what it does well and learn about what needs improving, but only if students make the time to complete the survey.

The NSSE campaign is led by OIPA in partnership with the Office of the Vice-Provost Students. York University’s NSSE effort is supported by a working group of over 20 people, including the president of the York Federation of Students, administrative staff and representatives from every Faculty.

“We’ve done our best to identify every eligible student in advance,” says Smith, “but we will probably miss some. If you are a student who is eligible to take the survey and have not received the invitation by the end of day on February 11, send an email to yorknsse@yorku.ca. We can’t add new students, but in some cases, we may have had a problem with the e-mail that can be corrected.”

For more information, see York University’s NSSE website.

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