Online Reporting System Tutorials
Respondents Included in Raw Data File
Means and Frequency Reports
Standards for Interpreting Mean Differences
Weights and Local Student Characteristics
Student Level Breakout Definitions
Student Identifier Data
College leaders will wish to familiarize themselves with Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) findings before communicating about the results. The following notes should be considered.
The Center offers four tutorials to help member colleges navigate and understand the various features of the CCSSE online reporting system.
- The respondent did not indicate whether he or she was enrolled full-time or less than full-time at the institution.
- The survey is invalid. A survey is invalid if a student does not answer any of the 21 sub-items in item 4, answers very often to all 21 sub-items, or answers never to all 21 sub-items.
- The respondent reported his or her age as under 18.
- The respondent indicated that he or she had taken the survey in a previous class or did not respond to item 3.
- Oversampled respondents are not included because they are selected outside of CCSSE’s primary sampling procedures.
To assist colleges in their efforts to reach for excellence, CCSSE introduced national benchmarks. Research shows that the more actively engaged students are — with college faculty and staff, with other students, and with the subject matter — the more likely they are to learn and to achieve their academic goals.
CCSSE benchmarks are groups of conceptually related survey items that focus on institutional practices and student behaviors that promote student engagement—and that are positively related to student learning and persistence. Benchmarks are used to compare each institution’s performance to that of similar institutions and with the CCSSE Cohort. The five benchmarks of effective educational practice in community colleges are: active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interaction, and support for learners.
Benchmark reports consist of tables showing the college's scores on each benchmark, followed by means and frequency tables of items in each benchmark. While the benchmark scores provide an overview of how the college is doing in particular areas, colleges must be mindful that the results from the individual survey items composing each benchmark deserve examination.
Responses to individual CCSSE survey items are summarized in two formats–means and frequencies.
Means reports present an average for each survey item that has scaled responses (e.g., strongly agree to strongly disagree) and compare average item responses between member colleges and various groups (e.g., similarly sized colleges), or between subgroups within a college (e.g., male & female). Means are not run on dichotomous items: those with only two response options (e.g., yes/no; enrolled/not enrolled). These items are summarized in the frequency reports.
Frequency reports present the observed frequencies of occurrence (counts and percentages) of the values for each survey item, excluding demographic survey items. These reports are useful for understanding how data are distributed across response categories. Please note that counts and percentages on frequency reports are subject to rounding.
Under certain circumstances, deactivating weights may be a more informative way to examine institutional CCSSE data. Even the most recent IPEDS data are approximately three years old and may not always accurately represent a college’s current student population. For example, in the case that a college has experienced a significant change in enrollment characteristics during the three years prior to administering CCSSE, the college’s institutional research department may want to consider whether the weights based on the IPEDS numbers are completely appropriate.
Another example of when to consider not weighting CCSSE data is in the case of a college where the vast majority of its students are either full-time or less than full-time (e.g., 92% full-time). That college may want to look at the unweighted results for the majority group of students to guide campus discussions.
The Center encourages member colleges to carefully compare the student characteristics of their CCSSE sample with the characteristics of the student population from which the sample was drawn in order to evaluate the effect of a possible sampling bias.
Breakout reports including benchmarks, means, and frequencies are available in each of the areas below. Each category is based on student responses to specific survey items.
Full-Time & Less Than Full-Time (Enrollment Status)
Item 2: “Thinking about this current academic term, how would you characterize your enrollment at this college?”
Developmental & Non-Developmental
Three sub-items in Item 8: “Which of the following have you done, are you doing, or do you plan to do while attending this college?”
8c. Developmental remedial/reading course
8d. Developmental remedial/writing course
8e. Developmental remedial/math course
If a student responded that he or she had taken or planned to take any one or more of these three types of courses, he or she is classified as Developmental; if a student responded that he or she has not taken nor planned to take all three of those types of courses, he or she is classified as Non-Developmental.
Traditional & Nontraditional-Age
Item 29: “Mark your age group.”
Respondents under age 18 are excluded from all data sets. Respondents marking age groups 18 to 19, 20 to 21, and 22 to 24 are classified as Traditional-Age and those marking age groups 25 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 64, or 65+ are classified as Nontraditional-Age.
First-Generation & Not First-Generation
Item 36:“What is the highest level of education obtained by your: Father/Mother?”
If the respondent indicated that his or her mother or father had attended at least some college, then the student is classified as Not First-Generation; otherwise, he or she is classified as First-Generation. In addition, to be classified as First-Generation or Not First-Generation, the student must have responded to both the mother and father education level items.
Male & Female
Item 30: “Your Sex.”
Item 34: “What is your racial identification?”
Item 23: “How many TOTAL credit hours have you earned at this college, not counting courses you are currently taking this term?”