By: Lorelei Kenny

If you are wrapping up the first or last year of your undergraduate degree, you may have received an invitation in your UPEI inbox to participate in “The National Survey of Student Engagement” (NSSE).

NSSE collects information from students who are in their first and last year of undergraduate study at over seventy universities across Canada. It asks questions regarding programs and activities that universities provide for their student’s learning and personal development. The results allow universities to gage a variety of things, including their students’:

  • Class preparation and participation
  • Workload
  • Interaction with faculty
  • Extra involvement on campus
  • Writing, reading and studying strategies
  • Use of spare time.


NSSE is an opportunity for first and last year UPEI students to tell administration, faculty, and staff how they are doing in classes, and what their overall experience has been. It is an opportunity to provide honest, critical feedback so the university can put more resources where students want and need them.

UPEI receives the NSSE report and reviews the results extensively. The report includes analyses in relations to three comparison groups:

  • Universities on a regional level
  • Universities on a national level
  • Universities with select peers (a group of universities UPEI deems comparable to itself).

The university has participated in NSSE five times since 2006. In the past, UPEI has been well above the national average for participation in the NSSE. For instance, in 2014, 80 Canadian institutions participated in NSSE. In that year, 57% UPEI first-year students (vs. 30% in Canada) and 55% UPEI fourth-year students (vs. 32% in Canada) responded to the survey.

Vice-President Academic and Research, Dr. Robert Gilmour, says that the NSSE results will be instrumental in improving UPEI’s Academic Plan. Moreover, that the five committees that are currently driving UPEI’s Academic Plan forward, which includes committees on Student Life and Teaching and Learning, will consider how the academic plan can benefit from the NSSE results.

Past Vice-President Academic, Dr. Christian Lacroix, added that NSSE results have been a great resource to reflect upon when measuring the progress of the UPEI Strategic Plan. NSSE helps the university see which goals in its strategic plan have been met and which ones have not. This allows the university to increase its focus in areas that are in need of improvement.

When the results are released UPEI’s Dr. Gilmour and Institutional Researcher, Dr. Yuqin Gong, will share the results with the university community. Dr. Robert Gilmour says the university will also seek input from the Student Union which represents all full-time university students and MAPUS which represents Mature and Part-Time University Students. He will inform the student populations of any pending changes to programs or processes and if there is enough interest he will meet with students to discuss the changes. If you have any questions about the survey and how UPEI uses your response, you can contact Yuqin via email (

Dr. Robert Gilmour emphasized that the university takes student input very seriously and welcomes any opportunity to participate in a dialogue with students. He said he wants to “make whatever changes are necessary to enhance the student experience at UPEI.”

When you fill out this survey, not only do you help shape your university into one that is more accommodating to your experience, you enter into a contest for UPEI students. In appreciation for completing the survey, the university offers students the chance to win one of nine early bird prizes valued at $100 each and a grand prize valued at $500, in the form of either gift cards or UPEI Campus Card credits.

The survey is already open and will close in mid-April. Although you have a couple of months to complete it, you might want to provide feedback ASAP so you can be entered for a chance to win one of the early-bird prizes. The earlier you complete the survey, the greater your chances of winning! The first three early bird draws will take place February 24, March 3, and March 10, and the grand prize will be drawn in mid-April.

A big thank-you to the UPEI Institutional Researcher, Dr. Yuqin Gong, the past Vice-President Academic, Dr. Christian Lacroix, and the Vice-President Academic and Research, Dr. Robert Gilmour, for meeting with The Cadre to discuss the importance of NSSE for UPEI and its students.