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College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ)

The CSEQ is a product of the Center for Postsecondary Research & Planning at Indiana University. The CSEQ is one of the longer surveys, which leads to concern about response rates. We have participated in COFHE-wide administrations of this in 1997 and 2001.

Though long, the CSEQ has the advantage of asking many behavior-based questions (for example, about interactions with faculty and other students) in addition to standard evaluative and opinion items. The National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE), a new national survey which has received a lot of press, has many items in common with the CSEQ. COFHE has opted to not use the shorter NSSE, because of concerns about the applicability of NSSE's approach to selective private institutions and expected pressures to make results public. Instead, COFHE institutions collaberated on our own version of this type of survey, which was administered in 2003 as the Enrolled Student Survey.

Swarthmore administered this survey to the Junior Class in 1997, achieving a 54% response rate.

An option for the administration of the COFHE-sponsored CSEQ in spring 2001 was a web version. Since a similar survey would be offered by COFHE for our use in 2003, Swarthmore viewed this as a low-risk opportunity to experiment with the convenience of a web-based survey. The results of this experiment were mixed! All enrolled students were invited to participate in the web survey in the Spring of 2001. The response rate was 42%, the lowest we'd seen for any survey in recent years. At the time it could not be discerned whether the low rate was due to a general trend of lower response rates, to the length of the survey, to the format of the survey, or to technical problems with the vendor. Many COFHE institutions experienced extremely serious problems with the vendor's server going down, resulting in scores of frustrated students. It is not known how seriously these problems affected Swarthmore students. However, since subsequent web-based surveys achieved higher rates, there is some basis for concluding that student frustration was a factor.