Priorities Survey for Online Learners™
Survey ordering/Pricing information
Implementing the surveys on campus
- How long does it take to complete the survey?
- When do most institutions administer the survey?
- How do I select my survey sample size?
- Does Ruffalo Noel Levitz print my 10 additional supplemental items onto the paper-and-pencil survey?
Survey processing/Report delivery
Why assess student satisfaction and student engagement?
- How does assessing student satisfaction differ from assessing student engagement?
- Do we need to assess both student satisfaction and student engagement?
- How often should we conduct student satisfaction and student engagement assessments?
The per-survey fee is based on the number of surveys you order. The only other required fees are a processing and set-up fee and a 5 percent handling fee. All other materials are optional.
Students and campus personnel need approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey.
Use of the surveys is appropriate at any time during the academic year. However, we suggest you avoid surveying during intensive testing times (e.g., mid-terms and finals) or during the first three to four weeks of the term (so entering students have time to become familiar with your campus before responding to the survey items). In general, we recommend administering the Ruffalo Noel Levitz surveys during similar timeframes during the academic year, or within a few weeks. This ensures that data from multiple instruments will be gathered from a nearly identical campus environment. You may also want to plan to survey at the same time period over multiple years for appropriate benchmarking. Here are some additional guidelines:
Fall surveying. Among the advantages of fall surveying:
- More entering students can be surveyed before attrition takes effect, while decisions to stay or leave are still being formed.
- You’ll have time to act on the survey findings during the same academic year.
Spring surveying. Among the advantages of spring surveying:
- Students have more experiences on which to base their responses.
- You can use the late spring and summer for follow-up planning.
We recommend inviting your entire student population to complete the survey. With reminder messages, general publicity through other communication vehicles, and an incentive, online response rates average around 20-30 percent.
Please see our implementation guidelines (PDF) for further details on selecting your sample.
Ruffalo Noel Levitz will work with you to customize your online account. Contact Julie Bryant of Ruffalo Noel Levitz for more details on how to set up your online account at least one to two weeks prior to when you want your online survey available for your students.
Your scored results will be available approximately seven business days after your account closes. Results are delivered in electronic documents to a password-protected safe mail account. You will be notified by email with a link to the results when they are ready to access. Paper copies of the results are available for an additional fee and are generally delivered within 10-12 business days after your account closes.
Both types of assessments provide complementary venues for a more complete picture of the undergraduate experience, which is central to promoting student learning, success, and educational attainment.
Engagement assessments show how students invest their time, the effort they devote to various academic and co-curricular endeavors, and the resulting gains they feel they achieve. Conversely, student satisfaction assessments look at the importance students place on various services, programs, and experiences and the relative degree of satisfaction that results from their transactions with them, while assessing a representative sample of students across the institution. Student satisfaction assessments pinpoint areas within the institution that need immediate attention.
Student satisfaction and engagement assessments share some common characteristics as well. First, students regard the items on both types of assessments as relevant and worthy of their response. Second, both examine important elements of the student experience, with engagement assessments focusing more narrowly on the academic/classroom dimensions. Student satisfaction assessments generally focus more broadly on the total experience by capturing students’ views of instruction, advising, registration, campus services, academic support, etc. Third, both instruments yield information designed to illuminate and improve student and institutional performance. Student retention results from high levels of student engagement and satisfaction. Hence, the instruments complement one another in many important ways.
One point of difference: engagement assessments at four-year institutions are targeted for first-year and fourth-year students. Satisfaction assessments are typically administered across a representative sample of the entire population, including first-, second-, third-, and fourth-year students. Also, at this time, there is not an engagement survey specifically for online learners.
Assessing both student satisfaction and student engagement is important in order to inform and guide an institution’s retention efforts. Both types of assessments will provide timely, systematic, and relevant information on various facets of the undergraduate experience; therefore they both play an important role in crafting retention systems that improve student and institutional performance.
You may want to consider conducting student satisfaction and student engagement assessments on an every-other-year basis. Many institutions conduct each assessment on alternative years. This would allow you to devote the appropriate time and resources to understanding the results and it would allow you to make improvements on campus before the next assessment period.