National Student Engagement Surveys for Chinese Secondary and Higher
Education: Effective Practice for an Era of Mass Schooling.
project includes implementation of IU-developed surveys that measure
student engagement in China's diverse institutions of higher education.
Known as “NSSE-China”, this longitudinal research project was
initiated by me in 2007 in collaboration with Tsinghua University in
China. Based on National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), launched
in 1999 and housed at Indiana University, the NSSE-China instrument
asks college students to report their perception of institutional
environment, their participation in programs and activities
institutions provide, interactions with faculty and other students,
time-on-tasks, as well as background characteristics and learning
The first stage of the project
involves large-scale quantitative data collection and analysis. The
NSSE instrument was translated into the Chinese language and adapted to
the Chinese context by a research team that I led which included Yan
Luo, my postdoctoral colleague and Associate Professor of Tsinghua
University and IU doctoral student Yuhao Cen in the fall of 2007. The
instrument was pretested in China with pilot surveys in six
institutions in Beijing in the winter of 2007 and with cognitive
interviews in five institutions of various types and in different
regions in China during the summer of 2008. The national survey
administration was conducted in June 2009 among 27 voluntarily
participating institutions. The second stage of the project examines
across diverse institutional contexts the impact on student learning of
student engagement,the time and energy students devote to
educationally purposeful activities. In China, I expect the new survey
to become an indispensable research tool to help clarify the role and
experiences of students in Chinese universities and what
responsibilities and obligations Chinese universities have to create
for their students the most effective learning environments.
The significance of focusing on student engagement is that
it provides institutions with an alternative way to conceptualize
quality – from the point of view of student experience. China is
grappling with how to envision the purposes of higher education. For
example, is a university education an individual investment or do
universities play a role in the larger development of Chinese society?
As a comparative educator, I believe these questions are relevant to
educational policies worldwide. Chinese approaches to engaging their
students and articulating the purposes of universities reflect and
contribute to global debates regarding educational reform. In the third
stage, the objective of comparing student engagement and the politics
of cross-national policy attraction in China, the U.S., Australia, and
Canada is to be achieved. This longitudinal project was
originally supported by IU seed money given for faculty research
support, and is now supported by Ford Foundation China Research Grant
(This grant is being run through Tsinghua University. I am a
co-PI with lead Professor Jinghuan Shi. The grant runs to 2012.)
Sample Survey Instrument:
Page 1; Sample Page 2
- H. Ross. 2010. Chair and
Discussant. “Assessing Student Engagement Internationally: Responding
to Local and Global Discourse on Raising Educational Quality.” Annual
meeting of Comparative and International Education Society, Chicago,
- H. Ross, Z. Zhou, and Y. Cen.
2009. “Assessing Student Engagement in China: Responding to Local and
Global Discourse on Raising Educational Quality.” 3rd China Goes
Global Conference, Harvard University, October 1.
- H. Ross. 2009. “Student
Engagement in China, an Evaluation of NSSE-China.” Invited address,
Ford Foundation-Tsinghua University NSSE-China workshop, Tsinghua
University, Beijing, April 23.
- H. Ross. 2008. “Student
Engagement in Chinese Higher Education, Comparative Data.” Keynote
speaker, International Symposium on Assessment and Evaluation in
Chinese Higher Education, Tsinghua University, Beijing, June 13.
- H. Ross. 2008. “NSSE in China:
Assessing Quality Education from the Student Perspective.” Annual
meeting of Comparative and International Education Society, New York
- H. Ross. 2008. Chair. “Student
Engagement and E(quality) Education in Chinese Higher Education.”
Comparative and International Education Society, New York City, March.
- H. Ross. 2007. Chair and
Discussant. "Quality Assurance and Education." World Congress of
Comparative Education Societies triennial meeting, Sarajevo, B-H,
The Chronicle of Higher Education. August 9, 2010.