The NSSEs founders hoped that participating universities would make this data public, creating new incentives for institutions to burnish their reputations through better teaching. But most schools chose to keep their survey results hidden, fearing that a low score would hurt their standing in the public eye.
An offshoot directed at community colleges, however, took a different course. Launched in 2002, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) polls a sample of students at participating institutions to evaluate the prevalence of research-proven best teaching practices; hundreds of colleges have since used the survey. Unlike their four-year counterparts, all of these schools have chosen to make their results public.
CCSSE measures best practices, not learning outcomes. But a 2006 study, which compared students responses to CCSSE questions with their GPAs (controlling for prior academic performance to isolate the importance of CCSSE factors), confirmed that these practices do in fact enhance student achievement. Survey questions used to measure active and collaborative learning showed the strongest relationship. In other words, the more students work together in and out of the classroom, the more they contribute to class discussions and participate in community-based projects, the greater their likelihood of getting good grades and earning a degree. These findings held true even after controlling for students age, race, and gender.