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Survey Support

A series of meetings were held in the Fall of 1998 to build support for the NSSE initiative and, more specifically, to plan for the pilot in 1999. These included:

(1) an invitational gathering held in Washington, D.C. with representatives of accrediting bodies, state/system higher educational agencies, and the press; and,

(2) two "stakeholder" meetings with potential institutional participants drawn from the Council of Independent Colleges and the Annapolis Group. The purpose of these formal dissemination meetings was to introduce the concepts behind the initiative to a wider institutional audience, to obtain feedback on the draft survey instrument and administration arrangements, and to build constituency support for the project. In addition, project staff engaged in numerous one-on-one conversations with potential stakeholders and participants throughout the summer and fall.

Consistent areas of concern regarding the NSSE emerged at these meetings. They include:

  • a concern that the NSSE might create pressure to homogenize curricular practices,
  • the need to clarify the NSSE's purpose and to develop safeguards against the misuse of survey results,
  • the recognition that institutions might try to manipulate the results-especially if the survey is used in rankings or other "high-stakes" settings; and,
  • a concern that The College Student Report is really a "reputation/selectivity" measure in another guise.

These are legitimate concerns and are being closely monitored by the project team. These concerns aside, all constituency groups contacted to date strongly support the NSSE's basic thrust. Indeed, most feel that The Report represents one of the best available alternatives to productively shift the focus of "quality" discussions in higher education from resource/reputation indicators toward the things that really matter in an undergraduate education.