Explore SASSE

What is SASSE?

The South African Survey of Student Engagement (SASSE) collects information from undergraduate students to identify the extent to which they engage in effective educational behaviours, and to what extent they perceive the institutional environment as supportive and engaging.

In administering the survey, institutions obtain high-quality data from their own students to encourage reflection on whether institutional intentions and student experiences are aligned. Data can be used diagnostically to provide institutions with information that is actionable and that can enhance the discourse about quality in education from the perspective of teaching, learning, and effective educational practices.

The SASSE measures student engagement in four themes:

Academic challenge. This theme includes questions on how often students analyse, evaluate, and apply numerical information; how often they engage in learning strategies that have been proven to be effective; and whether students engage in deep approaches to learning, namely, whether they apply reflective and integrative strategies and higher-order learning approaches.

Learning with peers. This theme is based on the premise that students learn when they are working with other students, in and out of class. Collaborative learning involves asking other students for help in understanding module/subject material or explaining the material to others, studying with other students, or working collaboratively on group assignments. Other questions relate to the frequency of discussions with diverse others – people of different ethnicities, economic backgrounds, religious beliefs or political views.

Experiences with staff. This theme relates to the assertions that by interacting with staff members inside and outside the classroom, students learn how experts think first-hand, learn how to solve practical problems and are exposed to various teaching practices. Some items under this theme include the extent to which students discuss their grades, future plans, and ideas with staff, whether they worked with staff on activities outside of class and how prompt assessment feedback is. 

The Campus environment theme asks students about their experiences of the campus environment, and the quality of their relationships with other students and academic and administrative staff. Students’ perceptions of the institution’s emphasis of academic and non-academic engagement practices are also probed.

In addition to these four themes, students are asked about their participation in high-impact practices. Such practices relate to scaled interventions or programmes that intentionally aim to provide students with curricular and co-curricular enriching opportunities. The items include enquiring about students’ engagement in practical work, research with staff, academic advising, peer learning, academic literacy or numeracy courses, First Year Experiences, and service learning, among others. 

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