NSSE - Level of Academic Challenge

Challenging intellectual and creative work is central to student learning and collegiate quality.  Colleges and universities promote high levels of student achievement by emphasizing the importance of academic effort and setting high expectations for student performance. 




Carnegie Peers




Effect Sizeb


Effect Size













a Scores are averages based on a 100 point scale on which higher scores indicate higher levels of endorsement.  * = p < .05, ** = p < .01, *** = p < .001
b Effect size indicates “practical significance” of the mean difference.  In practice, an effect size of .2 is considered small, .5 moderate, and .8 large.  Effect sizes below .2 generally do not suggest means are practically significant.

Level of Academic Challenge

Data based on 2008 NSSE. UW-L First-Year
n = 882, Senior n = 983.

Level of Academic Challenge Items

  • Preparing for class (studying, reading, writing, rehearsing, etc. related to academic program)
  • Number of assigned textbooks, books, or book-length packs of course readings
  • Number of written papers or reports of 20 pages or more; number of written papers or reports of between 5 and 19 pages; and number of written papers or reports of fewer than 5 pages
  • Coursework emphasizing analysis of the basic elements of an idea, experience or theory
  • Coursework emphasizing synthesis and organizing of ideas, information, or experiences into new, more complex interpretations and relationships
  • Coursework emphasizing the making of judgments about the value of information, arguments, or methods
  • Coursework emphasizing application of theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations
  • Working harder than you thought you could to meet an instructor's standards or expectations
  • Campus environment emphasizing time studying and on academic work