ACRL National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Information Literacy Module Review Task Force

The ACRL National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Information Literacy Module Review Task Force was charged in 2020 to “work with the National Survey of Student Engagement staff to review and revise the current information literacy module and provide comment on the analysis of the data by August 2021.” NSSE is an annual survey of first-year and senior students at participating four-year colleges and universities. The survey uses self-reporting to measure student involvement in institutional programs, high-impact educational practices, and campus engagement. Since 2000, nearly 6 million students have participated in the NSSE, with roughly half a million students completing the survey in 2020 alone. When institutions run the NSSE, they can select two topical modules for students to complete. “Experiences with Information Literacy” is one such topical module.

The NSSE Experiences with Information Literacy Topical Module “asks students about their use of information and how much their instructors emphasized the proper use of information sources. This module complements questions on the core survey about higher-order learning and how much writing students do.” The original module was informed by the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education and was designed in 2013 as a collaboration between college and university librarians and NSSE staff. It focuses on how students use information throughout their studies, how faculty incorporate information literacy into the classroom, and how the institution has helped them grow their information literacy skills.  From 2014-2020, 238 institutions implemented the module as part of their NSSE campus rollout.

In 2021, the “Experiences with Information Literacy Module” was paused in order to revise it toward the evolving nature of information literacy, as well as to align it with the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education. The current task force began the revision process through an in-depth literature review of how libraries and institutions have used NSSE data. Extensive stakeholder consultation followed, including focus groups of recent IL module users, continuous feedback from collaborators at NSSE, and other higher education professionals working in high impact practices and student engagement. This work culminated in a revised version of the IL module to be piloted in the 2022-2023 cycle.

NSSE is only one of many national assessment tools available to colleges and universities, but its longevity and national buy-in makes it a valuable tool for library advocacy. By including the “Experiences with Information Literacy Module” in your institution’s NSSE administration, your library can use the data to argue for the importance of information literacy skills to administrators at the campus-level. Data can reveal correlations of information literacy to engagement factors across your institution, such as higher-order learning, collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, and supportive environments. Participation in NSSE and the IL module can serve as an outreach tool for incorporating information literacy instruction across your campus.

The initial two-year term for the ACRL National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Information Literacy Module Review Task Force is wrapping up in July 2022, but there is more work to accomplish. In addition to completing the pilot of the new module, the task force hopes to create a suite of education and outreach materials for librarians to better understand NSSE data and how they could best utilize the IL module. The task force wants to hear from you about what types of materials and information would best help you and your institution with advocacy for including the IL module in your institution’s NSSE, how to interpret the module data, and how to use the data to create meaningful connections with campus partners.

Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns with Merinda Kaye Hensley, chair of the task force, at or Mary Jane Petrowski, ACRL staff liaison, at

You can learn more about the data from the NSSE Information Literacy Module data in Kevin Fosnacht’s article “Information Literacy’s Influence on Undergraduates’ Learning and Development: Results from a Large Multi-institutional Study” in College & Research Libraries.