University of Wisconsin–Madison


A First Look at NSSE 2017

Overall satisfaction levels are high:

  • 91% of seniors would attend UW-Madison again, significantly higher than the 85% of students at peer institutions.
  • 92% rated the academic quality of UW-Madison as good or excellent, significantly higher than the peer average of 84%.

Responses point to a strong academic emphasis:

  • 89% of freshmen and 87% of seniors responded that the institution emphasizes spending time on academic work, significantly higher than peer responses (82% for freshmen and 82% for seniors).
  • UW-Madison seniors reported spending more time on assigned readings but less time writing than peers. On average, UW-Madison seniors wrote 63 pages for assignments during the year, compared to 74 pages written by seniors at peer institutions.
  • UW-Madison students showed a strong emphasis on quantitative reasoning, comparable to the average score in the top 10% of all NSSE-participating institutions.
  • The majority of seniors reported substantial learning gains on thinking critically and analytically (90%) and on analyzing numerical and statistical information (73%).
  • 82% of UW-Madison seniors reported that their experience contributed to a broad general education, significantly higher than the peer response (75%).
  • Seniors and first-year students reported higher levels of reflective and integrative learning compared to peers. 86% of UW-Madison seniors reported they connected ideas from their courses to prior experiences and knowledge, 75% reported they learned something that changed the way they understood an issue, and 72% tried to understand someone else’s view by imagining how it looks from their perspective.

For more information:

UW-Madison faculty and staff who are interested in using the data for program assessment purposes can review the reports posted online or contact Margaret Harrigan (

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is a survey of college freshmen and seniors designed to assess student involvement in practices associated with high levels of learning, show what students think of their undergraduate experience, and how they are benefiting from their studies.

In spring 2017 all UW-Madison freshmen and seniors were invited to respond to NSSE. The UW-Madison response rate was 29 percent — 1,952 first-year students (31 percent) and 2,556 seniors (28 percent) responded.

Short Summaries of UW-Madison Findings

A First Look at NSSE 2017 (posted Sept. 2017)
Focus on Wisconsin Experience (posted Oct. 2017)
Focus on General Education (posted Oct. 2017)
Focus on Climate (posted Oct. 2017)
Focus on Transferable Skills and Career Preparation (posted Nov. 2017)

NSSE-Provided Reports

NSSE Engagement Indicators Snapshot
Detailed Frequency Distributions and Summary Statistics
Transferable Skills Module Summary
Public Research Universities (AAU) Consortium Report
High Impact Practices Summary
Administration Summary
— Reports by Major Area of Study (expected November 2017)


In 2017, a total of 725 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada participated in the survey. NSSE is based at the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.