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Validation Of Surveys Measuring Student Engagement In Engineering, Part 2

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Measurement Tools

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1344.1 - 14.1344.20



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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth Cady National Academy of Engineering

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Norman Fortenberry National Academy of Engineering

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Malcolm Drewery National Academy of Engineering

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Stefani A. Bjorklund Rankin & Associates Consulting

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


This paper will summarize the development, testing and validation of the engineering versions of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and its faculty version, the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE). These engineering versions (E-NSSE and E-FSSE) assess the extent to which engineering students are being engaged by identified “best instructional practices” and are achieving certain learning outcomes desired of engineering graduates. Both instruments include sections on students’ college activities; reading, writing, and other educational program characteristics; educational and personal growth; and opinions about school. These surveys were first pilot-tested at six engineering programs across the United States. These institutions were selected to participate in the pilot administration of the survey because of their leadership and interest in the field of engineering education, their geographic diversity, and their willingness to administer the surveys college-wide. Tests of validity and reliability were conducted on both instruments. The instruments were then refined and shortened based on the psychometric properties of the items in the original instruments.

Ultimately, we hope to make the instruments available to the national engineering education community so that they might improve the ways in which they teach tomorrow’s engineers. This paper will discuss the ongoing progress of both instruments as well as summarize results obtained from their administration.


Engagement has no universally accepted definition, although several researchers have operationalized it in many different ways. Chen, Lattuca, and Hamilton [1] defined student engagement in terms of “quality of effort” (p. 339), while engaged faculty create an environment that stimulates student engagement. Faculty activities influence the experience of students. These activities include instruction, professional development, and overall attitudes. Student experiences occur in and out of class, and these events affect what and how well the student learns. Importantly, if the students believe their professors care about and take an interest in their education, they persevere and become more engaged in their education [1]. Although the content of both curricula and courses affects student engagement, far more important factors involve the students’ outlook on their educational experience as well as how effectively the faculty members convey the concepts throughout the curriculum. Thus, attention to pedagogy is critical for faculty in all career stages [2].

Individual differences exist in how students learn and how instructors teach [3]. Differences occur in the source, modality, treatment, and comprehension of the information received. Instructors differ in the level of abstraction, modality, student contribution to class, and point of view (i.e. focused or wide-angle) of the information they present [3]. As a general rule, engineering educators most effectively reach those students who best learn (1) with internal information (e.g. introspection), (2) with words more than pictures, (3) when given time to reflect on the material presented, and (4) when proceeding in a stepwise manner [3]. However, reaching the students

Cady, E., & Fortenberry, N., & Drewery, M., & Bjorklund, S. A. (2009, June), Validation Of Surveys Measuring Student Engagement In Engineering, Part 2 Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4647

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