(Irish Survey of Student Engagement), 2019

Study number (SN): 0030-06


Irish Survey of Student Engagement. (2020). (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) 2019. [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0030-06.



The central aim of (Irish Survey of Student Engagement, formerly known by the acronym “ISSE”) is to develop a valuable source of information about students’ experiences of higher education in Ireland. The results of the survey are intended primarily to add value at institutional level, and to inform national policy. A detailed online survey was offered to first year undergraduates, final year undergraduates and postgraduate students on taught programmes. Data are presented as responses to individual items and as calculated scores for nine indicators that relate to broad aspects of student engagement, such as Collaborative Learning and Higher Order Learning. has formative links with the US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE). Thus, Irish data can be evaluated in the context of other jurisdictions in addition to the national or sector contexts. Note that a there was a substantial revision of questions deployed in 2016 results in the fact that 2018, 2017 and 2016 data may be compared directly, but do not fully compare to data from previous years.

The term ‘student engagement’ is used in educational contexts to refer to a range of related, but distinct, understandings of the interaction between students and the higher education institutions they attend. Most, if not all, interpretations of student engagement are based on the extent to which students actively avail of opportunities to involve themselves in ‘educationally beneficial’ activities and the extent to which institutions enable, facilitate and encourage such involvement. focuses on students’ engagement with their learning and their learning environments. It does not directly explore, for example, students’ involvement in quality assurance or in institutional decision-making. Measuring engagement can provide a means to develop a fuller understanding of the student experience above and beyond that ascertained through surveys of student satisfaction alone.

A total of 40,558 students from twenty seven institutions responded to the survey which was undertaken in February – March 2019.



  • Higher Education
  • Student Behaviour
  • Student Engagement
  • Student Participation
  • Students (College)




The survey was offered as a voluntary census survey to all first year undergraduate students, final year undergraduate students and postgraduate students pursuing taught programmes in state-funded higher education institutions.

Observation units

  • Individual
  • Institutions / Organisations 

Temporal coverage

From 02/2019 to 03/2019

Each participating institutions selected the most appropriate three week period for local fieldwork from the overall national fieldwork period.

Time dimension

Repeated cross-sectional study; is undertaken on an annual basis. This dataset represents the sixth iteration.

Geographical coverage

Country: Ireland

Methods of data collection

  • CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interviewing)

Sampling procedures

All members of the target cohort (first year undergraduate, final year undergraduate, taught postgraduate higher education students) were invited to participate in the survey.

Percentage responses to question items, and calculated indicator scores, were weighted by sex, stage of study (first year, final year, postgrad taught) and mode of study (full-time or part-time/remote) at institutional level to ensure that the profile of repondents matched the profile of the student population. At national level, this has a very minor impact due to very similiar profiles.


Individual question items are grouped to contribute to specific indicators. Indicator scores are not percentages. They are calculated scores to enable interpretation of the data at a higher level than individual questions i.e. to act as signposts to help the reader to navigate large data sets.

Each question in the survey has between 4 and 8 possible responses. These are converted to a 60 point scale with 0 as the start point. To illustrate, if response 3 is chosen from 4 possible responses, this converts to a score of 66.67 as in the example below:




Asked questions or contributed to discussions in class, tutorials, labs or online




Very often

Responses transformed to 100-point scale






Indicator scores are calculated for an individual student when he/ she provides responses to the majority of contributing questions. The exact number of responses required varies according to the index, based on psychometric testing undertaken by NSSE and AUSSE, but a majority is always required. The index score is calculated from the mean of responses given. Index scores for any particular student group, for example first years, are calculated as the mean of individual index scores.


Example of SPSS syntax to calculate indicator scores for Higher Order Learning (HO). The syntax file is available.

COMPUTE HOapplyh=(HOapply-1)*20.

COMPUTE HOanalyzeh=(HOanalyze-1)*20.

COMPUTE HOevaluateh=(HOevaluate-1)*20.

COMPUTE HOformh=(HOform-1)*20.

COMPUTE HO=mean.4(HOapplyh, HOanalyzeh, HOevaluateh, HOformh).


Response rate

The overall national response rate was 29.3%. The response rate for subgroups are given on page 22-23 of the national report.



Data (available through ISSDA application process)

File name

File format/s

Contents of file


SPSS data

National survey dataset


Text / SPSS syntax

SPSS syntax

Documentation (available for download)

File name

File format/s

Content of file

0030-00_StudentSurveyIE_Revised 2016 questions


2019 Questionniare, questions used since 2016  






National report



Executive summary of national report





Accessing the data

To access the data, please complete a request form for research purposes, sign it, and send it to ISSDA by email.

For teaching purposes, please complete the ISSDA Data Request Form for Teaching Purposes, and follow the procedures, as above. Teaching requests are approved on a once-off module/workshop basis. Subsequent occurrences of the module/workshop require a new teaching request form.

Data will be disseminated on receipt of a fully completed, signed form. Incomplete or unsigned forms will be returned to the data requester for completion.


The dataset is generated from a national collaborative partnership of the Higher Education Authority, Irish Universities Association, Technological Higher Education Association, the Union of Students in Ireland and participating higher education institutions.


Any work based in whole or part on resources provided by the ISSDA, should  acknowledge: “ (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) 2019" and also ISSDA, in the following way: “Accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive -”.

Citation requirement

The data and its creators shall be cited in all publications and presentations for which the data have been used. The bibliographic citation may be in the form suggested by the archive or in the form required by the publication.

Bibliographical citation

Irish Survey of Student Engagement. (2020). (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) 2019. [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0030-06.


The user shall notify the Irish Social Science Data Archive of all publications where she or he has used the data.