National Survey of Student Engagement to Add Questions Examining Student Perspectives on How Higher Education Prepares Them for Careers

Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research to Collaborate with Strada Center for Consumer Insights

INDIANAPOLIS — Today, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), a project of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, Bloomington, announced plans to develop a new module for its widely-used annual survey, that will enable institutions to better understand how students’ expectations for career preparation align with their current undergraduate experience.

“We know that a majority of students today are pursuing higher education because they believe a college credential is the best pathway to a quality job or career,” said Alexander C. McCormick, NSSE director and faculty member at Indiana University, Bloomington’s School of Education. “As our economy faces unprecedented disruption in the wake of a global pandemic and the growing use of robotics, the urgency for higher education has never been greater. By adding the new module to NSSE, we’ll be able to provide higher education administrators, researchers, and policymakers critical, actionable information for the integration of workplace preparation and academic excellence.”

Since its launch in 2000, more than 1,600 bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States and Canada have used NSSE to assess the extent to which their students are engaged in evidence-based practices that promote their learning and success. Each year, hundreds of institutions use NSSE to survey their students, then use the results to inform campus initiatives and accreditation processes.

Funded by a grant from Strada Education Network, the survey expansion addresses the need for insights into connections between higher education and career pathways. The goal is to gather data and develop assessment tools, reports, and other resources to help colleges and universities learn more about the state of career preparation in undergraduate education. The grant also will fund a related module with a career and work focus in the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE), administered to college and university instructional staff since 2003.

“Higher education does more for students than qualify them for a job,” said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of learning and policy at Strada Education Network. “Yet, students, families, and policymakers are concerned about employability after college. Employers are concerned about college graduates’ preparation for the workplace. We need more information to measure how higher education prepares students for careers.”

NSSE is the largest survey of undergraduates focused on the quality of undergraduate education. More than 6 million students have completed the survey over its two decades of operation.

As a first step in the NSSE-Strada partnership, an experimental module was administered at about 40 colleges and universities this year. This pilot will inform the formal survey modules, where initial results are expected in the fall of 2021.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a pioneering social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. We believe real impact comes from informing, engaging, and empowering learners and leaders alike. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy, mission-aligned investments, and a network of affiliate organizations. Together, we work to create a new learning ecosystem that better serves the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers. Learn more at

About the Center for Postsecondary Research The Center for Postsecondary Research (CPR), a research center of the Indiana University School of Education, promotes student success and institutional excellence by conducting and disseminating research on student access, assessment, engagement, and persistence and by assisting postsecondary institutions and related agencies in gathering and using data for educational decision making and institutional improvement.