National Survey of Student Engagement


NSSE Official Logo


The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is an annual survey sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and is recognized as one of the most reliable assessments of effective practices in higher education.  The survey asks student respondents (first-years and seniors) to reflect on the time they devote to various educational and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be linked to learning, personal development, and other desired outcomes such as satisfaction, persistence, and college completion.  Responses to survey items are then combined and weighted to form five benchmarks of learning excellence.

Sweet Briar students have been active participants in NSSE since the first survey in 2001.  In both 2010, the most recent year that Sweet Briar participated, and in prior years, Sweet Briar first-years and seniors gave their educational and co-curricular experiences at the College high marks across each of the five Benchmarks of Excellence:

  1. Level of Academic Challenge (First Years | Seniors)
  2. Active and Collaborative Learning (First Years | Seniors)
  3. Student-Faculty Interaction (First Years | Seniors)
  4. Enriching Educational Experiences (First Years | Seniors)
  5. Supportive Campus Environment (First Years | Seniors)

On each of the benchmarks, seniors consistently rated Sweet Briar near or above other liberal arts institutions as a group and much better than all NSSE participants combined, including public universities. 

96% of seniors in the Class of 2010 rated their overall educational experience as "Good" or "Excellent," a rate that exceeds the national average for all NSSE participants as well as that of other colleges within its Carnegie classification group, Baccalaureate – Arts and Sciences: 86% and 91%, respectively.  

Compared with their counterparts at other Baccalaureate – Arts and Sciences colleges, Sweet Briar seniors were much more likely to: 

Sweet Briar seniors were also more likely to rate their knowledge and skills development positively in areas such as:

Sweet Briar participates in NSSE every three years and uses results to assess student personal and academic development and identify areas for improvement in the curriculum and/or student services offerings. NSSE results are also a valuable tool for prospective students, because they provide important insights into a college’s character and culture, as well as its quality of education.

Find more information on the National Survey of Student Engagement on its website,