Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General CCSSE FAQs
CCSSE Membership FAQs
CCSSE Administration FAQs
CCSSE Reporting FAQs

General CCSSE FAQs

What is CCSSE?

The Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) is an assessment tool that provides information on student engagement, a key indicator of learning and, therefore, of the quality of community colleges. The survey is comprised of items that assess institutional practices and student behaviors that are highly correlated with student learning and student retention. It is a versatile, research-based tool appropriate for multiple uses. Identifying what students do in and out of the classroom, knowing students' goals, and understanding external responsibilities can help the college create an environment that can enhance learning, development, and success.

What items are included on the CCSSE instrument?

The CCSSE instrument asks students about their college experiences—how they spend their time; what they feel they have gained from their classes; how they assess their relationships and interactions with faculty, counselors, and peers; what kinds of work they are challenged to do; how the college supports their learning; and so on.

Is it possible to administer CCSSE online?

No. The Center is in the pilot stage of developing the Survey of Online Student Engagement (SOSE), a computer-based survey to be offered exclusively to online-only students at member colleges. (Students taking a mixture of online and on-campus courses are still eligible for sampling through CCSSE and/or SENSE, which have much higher response rates than online surveys.) If administered in a way that achieves acceptable response rates, a survey for online students would provide member colleges and the Center with valuable data about the engagement of online-only students.

Based on preliminary SOSE pilot results, in-class paper and pencil surveying remains the best option for reaching and gathering robust data from community college students enrolled in on-campus courses.

Is there a version of CCSSE for faculty?

Yes. The Center does offer a faculty survey option for colleges participating in the student survey. Offered as a companion to CCSSE, the Community College Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (CCFSSE) is an online survey that invites all faculty members teaching credit classes at participating colleges to contribute their perspectives on student engagement. CCFSSE is designed to elicit information from faculty about their teaching practices, the ways they spend their professional time—both in and out of the classroom, and their perceptions regarding students' educational experiences. With a flat-rate fee regardless of college size, CCFSSE is an affordable and effective way to invite faculty into a college-wide conversation about student engagement and success.

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CCSSE Membership FAQs

How much does CCSSE cost?

The Center bases its CCSSE membership fees on enrollment data reported through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). A base fee chart is available for review.

May a college add items to the survey?

Yes. For an additional fee, a participating CCSSE college may add a maximum of 15 custom survey items. However, many colleges have found that asking 5-10 well-written and appropriate questions will meet their needs while limiting the extension of survey administration time.

Colleges electing to add custom survey items to their administration may select items from the Additional Items Catalog, develop new items, or submit a combination of both. When selecting additional items, be sure to check items against those on CCSSE to avoid overlap.

NOTE: Colleges participating in a CCSSE consortium may need to coordinate the addition of custom survey items with Center staff and/or the consortium leader.

What is a consortium?

A consortium is a group of three or more colleges with common interests, characteristics, or locations that wish to participate in a CCSSE administration for the purpose of sharing data. Participation in CCSSE consortia is free.

All CCSSE member colleges that participate as part of a consortium benefit from the following:

  • the opportunity to administer custom survey items in addition to the core survey at all colleges in the consortium (additional fees apply)
  • consortium comparison reports

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CCSSE Administration FAQs

When is CCSSE administered?

CCSSE is administered during the spring academic term (February through April).

How is CCSSE administered?

CCSSE is administered as a pencil-and-paper survey to students in randomly selected credit courses.

How long does it take to complete the survey?

The survey is designed to be completed in one 50-minute class period. Historically, the survey has taken students up to 45 minutes to complete; however, it is possible that the survey may take an entire class period.

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CCSSE Reporting FAQs

Are CCSSE data publicly reported?

Yes. Those data—including benchmarks, means, and frequencies—are available in the College Profiles section of the CCSSE website. Because these data are public, the Center asks that the information be used responsibly. A policy statement on the responsible uses of Center survey data is available online for review.

How are CCSSE results provided to member colleges?

Survey results are provided to member colleges through institutional reports and Key Findings—an individually tailored executive summary—via the CCSSE online reporting system by July 31 of the survey year. Colleges access the CCSSE online reporting system through the Members Only section of the CCSSE website. The CCSSE online reporting system includes means and frequency reports for all students in the current CCSSE cohort* and college-specific benchmark, means, and frequency reports. College-specific reports include comparisons between the college, like-sized colleges, and the CCSSE cohort and are provided for all students and by enrollment status. Colleges that participate in consortia also receive reports in which the consortium replaces the like-sized colleges' comparison group.

In addition to the standard reports, colleges can request custom benchmark, means, and frequency reports with optional comparisons and breakouts on the Custom Report Requests page.

All colleges also receive access to a downloadable data file and a codebook for use in working with the data file. Additionally, college presidents receive multiple print copies of the Key Findings.

*CCSSE utilizes a three-year cohort (current year of administration plus the previous two years) of participating colleges in all of its data analyses, including the computation of benchmark scores.

Who can access colleges' CCSSE Institutional Reports?

Accessing a college's CCSSE Institutional Reports requires a username and password. The Center only shares institutional usernames and passwords with the respective college president and a person at the college designated as the institutional contact for CCSSE. One of these individuals should be contacted for information about accessing the college's data.

Will annual special-focus item results be included in the CCSSE Institutional Reports?

Yes. Results from CCSSE's annual special-focus items will be displayed in a frequency report.

Will the results of the college's custom survey items be included in the CCSSE Institutional Reports?

Yes. Results from custom survey items, if applicable, will be displayed in a frequency report.

Will CCFSSE results be included in the CCSSE Institutional Reports?

Yes. Results from CCFSSE will be displayed in frequency reports. Colleges that do not participate in CCFSSE will receive example reports.

Will oversample results be included in the CCSSE Institutional Reports?

Oversample results are only included in the college's data file, which can be accessed via the CCSSE online reporting system. Special data analysis for oversample data is available from the Center for an additional fee.

Are students' social security numbers or other identifiers included in CCSSE Institutional Reports?

No. The Center is serious about protecting student privacy; therefore, student identifiers are not included in institutional reports, nor are they stored on any web-connected server. However, institutional contacts may submit a request for encrypted data files including student-level identifiers to

How can colleges provide feedback regarding the content and format of the CCSSE online reporting system?

Users may provide comments and suggestions by clicking on the Feedback page of the CCSSE online reporting system and completing the web form. Additionally, after each survey administration and data release, the Center sends a feedback survey to presidents and institutional contacts, the contents of which are incorporated in the "Improvement through Feedback" column of the Center newsletter.

How can I view national CCSSE data?

National findings are available on the CCSSE website.

How long will colleges have access to their data on the CCSSE online reporting system?

Colleges have access to the CCSSE online reporting system as long as they remain active members in the rolling three-year cohort; therefore, colleges that participate at least once every three years will have continuous access to institutional reports from within the current cohort cycle. Colleges that participate in administrations outside of the current three-year cohort will have access to archived institutional data files. Member colleges should contact the Center at for information on obtaining archived institutional data files.

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Center for Community College Student Engagement
—a Research and Service Initiative—
Program in Higher Education Leadership | Department of Educational Administration  | College of Education
The University of Texas at Austin
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