Survey Research & Consulting

The primary purpose of Research and Assessment is to collect and analyze data about University of Cincinnati students to better understand their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. This information is primarily used to inform programs and policies for the university. Two of the main surveys used to collect this data are the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Student Satisfaction Inventory. 

Student engagement represents two critical features of collegiate quality. The first is the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other educationally purposeful activities. The second is how the institution deploys its resources and organizes the curriculum and other learning opportunities to get students to participate in activities that decades of research studies have shown are linked to student learning.

The National Survey of Student Engagement, developed and administered by researchers at Indiana University, collects information about first-year and senior students' participation in and experience with programs and activities that contribute to their learning and personal development.

University of Cincinnati students have participated in this survey for more than 10 years, and results of the survey have contributed to significant changes on campus, improving students' educational and campus life experiences. A range of reports, outlined below, are available to summarize and analyze NSSE data. 


The Snapshot is a concise collection of key findings from UC's participation in NSSE each year. These findings include a brief summary of the institution's Engagement Indicator and High-Impact Practices results, a comparison of UC's strengths and weaknesses with the peer group, and perceived gain among seniors.

Administration Summary

The Administration Summary provides details about the survey population and sample sizes, response rates, demographic characteristics of respondents, and a list of institutions included in each comparison group.

Engagement Indicators

The ten Engagement Indicators provide a summary of item-level NSSE responses. Survey items are assigned to an Engagement Indicator that offers information about a distinct aspect of student engagement. The Engagement Indicators are organized into four themes.

High Impact Practices

High-Impact Practices (HIPs) are undergraduate opportunities that have strong positive associations with student learning and retention. Each HIP demands considerable time and effort, facilitates learning outside of the classroom, requires meaningful interactions with faculty and students, encourages collaboration with diverse others, and provides frequent substantive feedback. 

Frequencies and Statistical Comparisons

The frequencies and statistical comparisons provide aggregated item-level data. The response distribution for each survey item is displayed next to a test of statistical significance for each comparison group.

Topical Modules

Beginning in 2013, institutions have been able to append topical modules to the NSSE. These modules are short sets of questions that provide additional insights on topics such as academic advising and experiences with diverse perspectives.

Student satisfaction at a college or university plays a role in the success of both the student and the institution, including higher student retention rates. When discussing student satisfaction, it is important to not only look at the student's satisfaction with his or her academic program, but with his or her satisfaction with the entire campus experience. 

The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), published by Noel-Levitz, collects information about student satisfaction within multiple areas of higher education, including but not limited to Academic Advising, Campus Support Services, Safety and Security, and Campus Life. 

University of Cincinnati has participated in this survey for 10 years, and the results of the survey have contributed to significant changes on campus, improving students' educational and campus life experiences. Please contact Institutional Research with requests for reports of the SSI data. 

Login to Bearcats Landing with your UC credentials to view the results from previous SSI surveys.

University Level Surveys

Members of the University of Cincinnati community interested in disseminating a survey to a large constituent of the university population are asked to read the below guidance.   

Surveys of University of Cincinnati constituents, such as students, faculty and staff, are recognized as important means for collecting information that can maintain and assure educational quality, institutional effectiveness, and improve student and employee satisfaction. The purpose of this guideline is to ensure that university surveys of campus constituents are conducted in a manner that respects all members of our campus community, minimizes redundancy and frequency of surveys and follows guidelines for survey deployment. In order to achieve these goals, all university survey of campus constituents will be coordinated and approved by a Provost leadership group.

The Provost leadership group will review any survey inquiries targeted to a broad campus constituent group except (a) surveys that target a focused sample, such as a college-level population; (b) course and event evaluations or assessment; (c) faculty surveying students within their particular classes; (d) students surveying other students within their classes; (e) surveys related to leadership performance evaluations. Also, for the purpose of this survey, information-collection techniques, such as polls or ballots used for voting purposes, or for other routine business operations are not considered surveys, even if they are administered using survey software.

Surveys will be considered for approval by the Provost leadership group based on the following premises:

·       Alignment with the University mission and strategic plan and their potential contribution to informed decision making

·       Appropriate timing, to control and optimize the quality of each survey, as too many surveys during a term overwhelms constituents, thus reducing response rates

·       Reduce content redundancies among surveys. Information in question may be already available through other surveys

·       Compliance with federal policies on privacy and human research protection, such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

·       Adherence to policies that involve human subjects research. All surveys involving a large constituent group must be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB)

·       Adherence to University Code of Conduct, which includes use of ethical norms, confidentiality and privacy, and responsible use of University electronic and non-electronic systems

Those who wish to administer a university survey to all staff, all faculty, all students, or the whole community, must submit the following information at least 60 days in advance of the desired launch date to the Director of Institutional Research:

1.     Name and contact information of person responsible for survey deployment

2.     Communication from respective Vice President or Vice Provost, stating support for survey

3.     Survey objective and details of how collected information is planned to be used. If available, survey instrument or survey instrument draft, as well as invitation communication draft

4.     Targeted timeline

5.     Notes on additional support needed, such as survey software, method to disseminate (such as a listserv), or assistance to review survey instrument, particularly on the assurance that the instrument and collected data is valid, reliable, and secure

If approved, the survey will be added to the University Survey Calendar (UC login required), maintained by the Office of Institutional Research.

Upon the completion of the survey, it is requested that a copy of the survey instrument and final report is sent to The Office of Institutional Research. Additional data may need to be supplied if applicable. This office, in return, will have the capacity to keep track of collected information, and be able to inform other survey inquiry agents if specific content has already been collected.


The Office of Institutional Research has several staff members with training and experience in survey development and administration. We may be available, depending on workload, to consult with you on:

  • Recruitment schedule, marketing and messaging
  • Survey design and item development
  • Data analysis
  • Providing contact information for population or sample to be surveyed

To work with the Office of Institutional Research on surveys, please plan  ahead and contact us at least a month in advance of when you intend to administer the survey.

Working with the Office of Institutional Research on your surveys will help the university community reduce survey fatigue, optimize the use of our resources and ensure the time spent on surveys is worthwhile. 

Helpful Links