Satisfaction-Priorities Surveys (SPS) FAQs
General Administration FAQs:
Online Administration FAQs:
Paper Administration FAQs:
Using the Results FAQs:
What are the costs for the survey?
The flat rate fees are based on the number of students you invite to complete the survey online OR on the number of paper instruments you order plus a flat rate administration fee. For the online administration, the fee covers the invitation messages and the reminder messages, along with any number of completed surveys when your account closes. Also included is the access to the RNL Client Portal with the following results:
- Your data compared with the national and in some cases a regional comparison group
- Your current administration alongside a previous administration (as appropriate)
- The ability to slice your results by all of the demographic variables in a variety of formats (both internally and with a comparable external comparison group for the same demographic variable)
- Excel documents that include your overall Recommendation Scores and Open Ended Comments (available with online administrations only)
- Access to the raw data results for additional analysis in Excel or SPSS
Note: As part of your main campus report, you will receive your identified strengths and challenges, the results for all individual items, as well as the items within the scale clusters, the item percentage results, the summary scores and the demographic responses.
You can view the order forms and place your order for each survey version following the links to the specific survey pages from here: www.RuffaloNL.com/SPSOverview
Which inventory version should we use, Form A or Form B?
For the Student Satisfaction Inventory, you have the option of the original Form A version or the shorter Form B version. The number of items and the national comparison group vary. Contact RNL for more information and to discuss which version will be the best fit for you. If you are also administering the Institutional Priorities Survey or the Parent Satisfaction Inventory, you will want to select the corresponding Form A or Form B based on the student version you are administering.
General Administration Answers
How long does it take to complete the survey?
Students and campus personnel need approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete the online versions and 20 to 30 minutes to complete the paper-and-pencil options.
When do most institutions administer 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 3-4 weeks of a new term (so entering students have time to become familiar with your campus before responding to the survey items). In general, we recommend administering the RNL surveys during similar timeframes during the academic year, or within a few weeks. This ensures that data from multiple instruments (especially the combination of the SSI and the IPS) will be gathered from a nearly identical campus environment. You may also want to plan to survey during 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; and 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; and you can use the late spring and summer for follow-up planning.
What is the reliability and validity for the survey instruments?
Each of the instruments have been determined to be reliable and valid. For details on the reliability and validity for each instrument, please see the survey specific addendums with the SPS Interpretive Guides.
How does assessing student satisfaction differ from assessing student engagement?
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. Student satisfaction assessments look at the levels of importance and satisfaction students place on various services, programs and experiences, inside and outside of the classroom experience. Student satisfaction assessments pinpoint areas within the institution that need immediate attention.
Student satisfaction and engagement assessments share some common characteristics and complement one another in many important ways:
- Students regard the items on both types of assessments as relevant and worthy of their response.
- Both examine important elements of the student experience with engagement assessments focusing more narrowly on the academic / classroom dimensions. Student satisfaction assessments focus more broadly on the total experience by capturing students’ views of instruction, advising, registration, campus services, academic support, etc.
- Both instruments yield information designed to illuminate and improve student and institutional performance. Student retention may result from high levels of student engagement and satisfaction.
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.
Do you need to assess both student satisfaction and student engagement?
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 also find that students won’t be satisfied if they are not engaged and they may not be engaged if they are not satisfied.
How often should you conduct student satisfaction and student engagement assessments?
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 to make improvements on campus before the next assessment period.
Does RNL provide documentation on how surveys of satisfaction and engagement support each other?
Yes! Mapping documents for each of the Student Satisfaction Inventory versions with the corresponding National Survey on Student Engagement (NSSE) or Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE) can be found here in the SPS Client Resources.
Online Administration Answers
How do I select my survey sample size for online administrations?
For online administrations, 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 percent.
Please see our Implementation Guidelines for further details on selecting your online administration sample.
How soon can the survey be ready for administration?
Your online survey account can be ready within three to five business days after you place your order with RNL. We will send you an email from StudentSuccessTech@RuffaloNL.com with directions on how to access your account and directions for customizing the survey. You will want to allow a couple of days for customization before you make your survey available. RNL will provide technical support for any assistance you need for customizing your survey. You can learn more about the online administration steps here.
Can I customize the online survey?
Yes. As part of the survey customization (which will appear seamlessly in an online survey) you can add the following:
- Ten campus specific items (20 for the ASPS), positive statements, that your students rate for importance and satisfaction.
- Two additional campus specific demographic questions, in a multiple choice format.
- An unlimited list of your majors/programs for your students to self-select their area of study from a drop down menu.
Will items we have customized in the past be included in our new account set up?
Yes, if you have an account in our online system from a past administration, your campus defined items will automatically be replicated. You will be able to edit these items if you want to make any updates to your current customization. Whenever possible, we recommend using the same items (in the same place holders) year over year for trend analysis.
Will I be able to identify individual students in the results?
With the online administration of the surveys, a unique passcode identifier is assigned to each student when they are uploaded into our system along with their first name, last name and email address. You may download the file with the student information and identifier for your reference. The passcode identifier is how the students access your survey account within our system and allows for tracking who does and does not complete the survey. The passcode identifier will appear with the student responses in the raw data files that are delivered with your results. You can use this identifier to match the responses back to the student name in order to append the file with additional information on file at the institution. RNL encourages you to keep student responses confidential and to not attempt any individual outreach to students based on their responses to the satisfaction surveys.
How long should my online survey stay open?
Typically, online administrations are open for three weeks, but you can determine the timeframe that will work best for you. If you haven’t achieved your desire response rate, you can extend the availability. You will be able to monitor your response rate in real time, along with the demographic distribution of the responders to determine if you want to target any additional outreach. RNL recommends that students not be told that the survey is open for an extended length of time because they may think they have time to come back to it and then not respond at all.
Can individuals provide open-ended comments?
Yes, the online administrations provide a section for comments to be shared with the institution. The comment section appears at the end of the survey. The comment section cannot be customized with specific free-response questions. The standard prompt is “Please enter any comments you would like to share with this institution”. RNL delivers the comments to the institution in a separate Excel document when the survey results are delivered.
Paper Administration Answers
How long does it take for paper-and-pencil surveys to arrive on campus once I place my order?
Materials are generally shipped to arrive within 7 to 10 business days after you place your order on the RNL Website. At your request, we can ship the materials to arrive via overnight delivery, payable by your institution, but we will still need two business days to process the order.
I have leftover surveys from the last time I administered, can I re-use them?
Yes, you will just need to pay the current processing fee again. Please contact us in advance of returning your leftover surveys to make arrangements for the processing.
How do I select my survey sample size?
We recommend that you survey a representative sample of your overall population. You may also determine that you want to survey just a targeted population, such as your first year-students, or just evening students; this is acceptable, but keep in mind the survey results are only applicable for the targeted group of students.
The number of surveys you distribute is based on your population size and chosen administration method. Surveys completed in a captive, in-classroom setting have the best response rate, typically 80-90 percent. Paper surveys distributed through other methods have lower response rates. Mail-outs of the paper surveys are not recommended (keep in mind that the surveys cannot be folded).
Please see our Implementation Guidelines for further details on selecting your sample for paper administrations.
Does Ruffalo Noel Levitz print my 10 additional supplemental items onto the paper-and-pencil survey?
To keep the turnaround time quick and costs low, Ruffalo Noel Levitz does not print the custom items on the paper-and-pencil surveys. Instead, we ask that you simply list your items on a separate sheet of paper and number them accordingly. This also applies for the campus-defined demographic items. It is not necessary to inform us of the items you include in the customized sections because results for these sections will be identified by item number only in your results.
Are students required to fill in their numeric student identifier on the paper-and-pencil version of the Student Satisfaction Inventory?
The numeric student identifier is an optional response item on the paper-and-pencil version of the Student Satisfaction Inventory and the Adult Student Priorities Survey. If completed by the student, it provides some additional research options for the institution. If it is not completed, it does not affect the rest of the survey responses in any way. The only place the student identifier appears is in the raw data file.
Where do I send the completed inventories for scoring?
Send all completed paper inventories to Ruffalo Noel Levitz at our Iowa office: SPS Processing, attention Wanda, 1025 Kirkwood Parkway SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404. To ensure that your inventories can be scored, please do not fold or staple them. To avoid delays, remove any inserts and make sure the inventories are all facing the same direction. Be sure to include your Scoring Request Form (provided with the paper survey shipment) or a cover memo with your completed inventories. Package separately any batches you want us to score separately and clearly label each batch. We recommend shipping via a trackable method to ensure completed surveys are not lost in transit.
When will my results be available after my administration is complete?
You will be provided with access to the RNL Client Portal within three weeks after your online account closes or your paper instruments are returned for processing. You will be sent an email from the RNL team to let you know that the results are available and provided with direction on how to log in to review the reports.
How long will results be available in the RNL Client Portal?
Your results will remain accessible in the RNL Client Portal for at least three years. You will be able to export the data into Excel from this location to be saved indefinitely at the institution.
Can multiple individuals on campus access the RNL Client Portal?
Yes. RNL will include one login when the results are delivered, tied to the primary contact’s email address. This login can be shared with others on campus. HINT: You will create a password for your login, so use a password that is unique from passwords you may use for personal accounts which will allow you to be more comfortable with sharing it with others on campus. Upon request, RNL can create a second login for your institution with an identified email address. The email will need to be a legitimate email address for authentication purposes. Multiple people can use the same login to be in the RNL Client Portal at the same time.
Will I receive the raw data files?
Yes, the raw data files are included automatically with each deliverable. The raw data can be loaded into Excel or SPSS for analysis. The raw data lets you append the individual responses with additional information about the student, provides the opportunity for cross-tab or multi-response demographic analysis and also lets you load the data into another data tool such as Tableau. To learn more about working with the raw data, visit this location in the SPS Client Resources.
Who will be in our external national comparison group?
Institutions which have administered the same survey version as you have, during the past three academic years, are reflected in your national comparison group. The norms are updated in June of each year and remain in place for the following academic year. You can see the lists of schools in each of the comparison groups in the SPS Client Resources.
Are PDFs or hard copies of the reports available?
PDFs and printed hard copies of the results are not currently included in the deliverable. The reports in the RNL Client Portal are designed to be interactive in nature, while also including the ability to export the data into an Excel document for further review.
Can RNL provide additional direction on reviewing our results?
Yes, RNL consultants are available to meet with you to review your results together. This discussion can be one-on-one or you are welcome to invite a team of individuals to gather on your end. The conversation is typically one hour in length. We will walk you through your results, share data observations, brainstorm with you on next steps and answer any questions you may have. This is a free service. Please contact Julie Bryant to schedule your report review conversation. Note: These meeting are typically scheduled at least one week in advance at an agreed upon time.
Support for Using the Results
What resources does RNL provide to support using our satisfaction survey results on our campus?
RNL offers a variety of client resources to support and guide your use of the data. RNL knows that the true value of the data is realized when the student feedback informs decision making on campus and when new initiatives are put in place based on the priorities of your students. Resources include:
- Infographic and PowerPoint templates to share the results on campus
- Tutorials to guide your review and use of the reports
- Interpretive Guides to help you understand the data that has been delivered
- Sample client documents for organizing and presenting the results
- Accreditation mapping documents for each of the regional accreditors
- Mapping to NSSE/CCSSE surveys to reflect how your satisfaction and engagement survey activities support each other
- Assessment Cycle Calendar to guide activities over the 24-month period between typical survey administrations
- Recorded presentations and PowerPoint decks from past webinars and conference presentations regarding student satisfaction
- Blogs focused on student satisfaction assessments
Additional questions that aren’t answered here? Contact Ruffalo Noel Levitz by phone at 800.876.1117 or email.