UVM promotes student participation in national survey


Emily Kobus

Alex Yin, executive director of UVM’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, presenting at SGA’s meeting Oct. 18.

UVM is seeking to increase student participation in a survey on student participation and activity in spring 2023, said Alex Yin, executive director of UVM’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.  

The National Survey of Student Engagement collects data from first-years and seniors about their participation in activities—such as academic opportunities, employment and social experiences—provided by their institution that aim to increase students’ learning and personal development, according to the NSSE website.

Reports developed from responses will detail how UVM students spend their time and what they are gaining from attending college.   

The NSSE will help inform UVM’s faculty and administration of how to help students get the most out of their college education, especially how instructors can make explicit the skills students are learning, Yin said. The NSSE also gauges how often students engage in collaborative learning and converse with other students from diverse backgrounds.

“It is a very important survey that is part of the Provost’s academic success metrics,” Yin said. “What we’re going to be doing with that information is have a baseline for our curriculum pedagogy.”

The NSSE is administered every three years at UVM, and this time the OIRA is allocating more funds to the promotion of the NSSE to hopefully increase student participation in the survey, Yin said.

“If we get a high [response] rate for NSSE, we can do a top-down and bottom-up approach of looking at learning outcomes,” Yin said. “How can the institution support [learning outcomes] with the general education, but how can the departments look at their curriculum to see if they’re adding on.”  

The NSSE will be accessible online via the MyUVM web page in spring 2023, Yin said. It will consist of 40 questions about student activities and practices, such as the amount of time students spend preparing for classes.

Junior Evan Siegel, SGA senator and member of the Academic Affairs Committee, said he thinks student participation in the NSSE is important and will be beneficial to the students’ experience at UVM.

“Definitely take this survey,” Siegel said. “It’s going to be showing […] what we care about and how we feel about this school, and the administration can only do so much if they have actual evidence that things are happening or not happening on campus.”

With the impending rollout of the NSSE, Yin wants students to know that data collection ethics matter to the OIRA, he said. 

“I get scared about how people utilize data and I really do think about the ethics,” Yin said. 

Yin said the OIRA is committed to utilizing data in ways that will protect the personal privacy of students.

“Our office makes sure that we do no harm,” he said. “We take the analysis of data very seriously.”

This is a message Yin wants to spread throughout his field, not just at UVM, he said.

“I think sometimes we get so excited about our research project that we forget the people,” he said. “I’m trying to emphasize that in the work that we do.”