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What is SENSE?

Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE) is a survey developed and distributed by the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. SENSE is designed to capture entering students’ experiences with an institution’s admission and enrollment infrastructure. Data resulting from the survey will help the College better serve incoming students, leading to retention and engagement gains.

The six benchmarks measured by the SENSE are:

  1. early connections,
  2. high expectations and aspirations,
  3. clear academic plan and pathway,
  4. effective track to college readiness,
  5. engaged learning,
  6. academic and social support network.

A sample SENSE survey can be viewed on the SENSE website.

Why are we doing SENSE?

CPTC has administered CCSSE for a number of years in order to capture the way in which, and the strength with which, our students engage with the College. CCSSE captures student insights during the mid-point of their experience with the College and provides a general overview of student interaction with academic and student supports.

In contrast, SENSE seeks to learn from students new to the College. This survey will provide specific feedback on the entrance process, from admissions to placement testing, financial aid, class selection, and more. This time period is crucial to investigate in depth for two key reasons:
1) Lessons learned can be rapidly applied in order to help subsequent enrolling students
2) First quarter retention is crucial to setting the stage for eventual graduation; positive impacts in this timeframe will pay dividends throughout the student’s academic career.

Together, CCSSE and SENSE will give CPTC a broad view of its students’ experiences as they enter and persist in their academic programs. The information gathered as a result of these survey administrations will be used to guide the College’s priorities and measure its progress toward meeting strategic and accreditation outcomes.

When do we administer SENSE?

This is the first time CPTC has administered SENSE. It will be given during the fourth and fifth weeks of the fall quarter (October 15-26).

How do we administer SENSE?

SENSE is administered as a paper and pencil survey during a regularly scheduled class period. The survey should take no more than 50 minutes. A survey administrator will give the survey, but we ask instructors to be on hand to answer any questions.

The Center for Community College Student Engagement selects a random sample of classes to survey, drawing from a pool of classes which are most likely to have new students in them. The classes include developmental classes excluding ESL, introductory college-level English and math classes, and student success courses.

Unfortunately, some instructors may have more than one class selected due to the limited number of classes serving primarily new students and the small number of subjects covered. Please note that we must allow for this to happen in order to ensure a random sample and a survey return number and rate high enough to provide meaningful data. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation.

When can we expect results? How will we get them?

On March 1, 2019, the President will receive the results of the survey, which will include CPTC’s scoring and comparative data of the cohort of colleges administering the SENSE during Fall 2018. These results will be widely disseminated to faculty and staff, including through College Assembly, postings on the website, and emails to ensure a broad distribution of results.


For more information about SENSE, see the Center’s list of frequently asked questions.

If you have questions about CPTC’s administration of the survey, contact Derek McFarland, the Survey Administrator or Samantha Dana, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness.

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