CCSSE survey to gauge student engagment

By Joe Moreno | Staff Writer

Feedback is key to improvement. To that end, community colleges around the country are gearing up to administer the Community College Survey of Student Engagement to help measure students’ perception of their schools.

Citrus College will participate in the CCSSE starting April 23. The University of Texas at Austin, which created and administers the national survey, will randomly select 46 classes to participate in the 37-question survey that takes approximately 45 minutes to complete.

The survey poses questions to assess institutional practices and student behaviors that are correlated with student learning and student retention, according to the CCSSE website.

“It’s about how much they’re learning,” said Lan Hao, Ph.D., Citrus College director of institutional research. “To some extent it’s about the quality of the education they’re receiving at the college and how much they’re engaged and participating.”

In 2006, the University of Texas completed a major validation research study that examines the relationship between student engagement and community college student outcomes.

According to its website, CCSSE serves as a benchmark instrument by establishing norms on educational practice and performance, a diagnostic tool by identifying areas in which colleges can enhance students’ educational experiences, and a monitoring tool by documenting and improving institutional effectiveness over time.

The survey measure five benchmarks – active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, and support for learners – to help determine areas in which colleges can improve.

Citrus has participated in the CCSSE every other year since its inauguration in 2006. The 2014 survey will mark the fifth time Citrus has administered the survey.

According to the 2012 survey results, Citrus has room for improvement in the benchmark areas of active and collaborative learning as well as student effort.

“Our score in collaborative learning is a little lower than peer colleges,” Hao said. “This is something definitely we need to improve as a college. So we have recommendations to faculty to foster an environment that encourages the students to ask questions.”

On the other hand, Citrus excelled in the benchmark category of support for learners.

The support programs offered at Citrus satisfied students, but a much smaller percentage of respondents actually utilize services offered, Hao said.
The results of the CCSSE may help the Citrus implement changes to improve students learning experience.

In conjunction with CCSSE all Citrus faculty are encouraged to complete the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, which engages professors to help provide depth to the CCSSE study.

Using the results from both CCSSE and CCFSSE, Citrus conducts focus groups to gather information and gain a better understanding of student perception on campus, Hao said.

There is a cost associated with CCSSE. Approximately 1,000 students will participate in the CCSSE this year, at a cost to Citrus between $8,000 and $9,000, Hao said.

Student participation can make or break it’s validity.

“If their class is chosen to take CCSSE please take it seriously. Please answer the questions to your best knowledge,” Hao said.

Students are encouraged to enter their student identification number at the end of the survey. The survey will not be tied back to student records and will allow the college to have more data for research, Hao said.

For more information on CCSSE and CCFSSE, visit or contact the Center for Community College Student Engagement at (512) 471-6807.