Office of Educational Assessment


The Challenge and Engagement Index (CEI) combines student responses to several IAS items relating to how academically challenging students found the course to be and how engaged they were. Development of the index was sparked by analyses1 of IAS data suggesting that:

  • Students put more effort into classes that demand more effort for them to be successful.
  • Students tend to prefer more challenging classes over less challenging classes.
  • The widely held belief that assigning students more work will lead to lower student ratings is not true in and of itself.
  • All faculty are not equally demanding; there are considerable differences across faculty in the amount of time students devote to their courses.

The items that compose the CEI are:

  • Relative to other college courses you have taken, the .
    • intellectual challenge presented was: (Item 24)
    • amount of effort you put into this course was: (Item 25)
    • amount of effort to succeed in this course was: (Item 26)
  • For the total average hours [per week spent on the course], how many do you consider were valuable in advancing your education? (Item 29)

Students rate Items 24-26 on a seven-point scale from Much Lower to Much Higher, whereas they respond to Item 29 using twelve categories. The CEI is computed by first converting responses to Item 29 to a seven-point scale, and then finding the median over the four items following the same method used for Combined Items 1-4. The CEI is only modestly correlated (-.25) with Items 1-4 and Combined Items 1-4.


1What Student Ratings Results Tell Us About Academic Demands and Expectations. (61K PDF)