Student Satisfaction Data: Guiding Campus Actions in the New Normal
Associate Vice President of Retention Solutions
May 14, 2020
Student-centered campuses take action based on regular feedback from their students. Assessing student satisfaction is a key way for campuses to identify the priorities of their student population along with the perceptions of how the campus is performing. Understanding student perceptions of campus performance and identifying the top student priorities for improvement become even more critical during challenging times like the ones we are in now.
For the past 25 years, the RNL Student Satisfaction Inventory has set the standard in student satisfaction assessment by having students indicate both a level of importance and a level of satisfaction with a variety of experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. The combination of importance and satisfaction scores allows campuses to see their institutional strengths (high importance / high satisfaction) as well as their institutional challenges (high importance / low satisfaction).
We hear from clients on a regular basis about how valuable student satisfaction data are for guiding actions and institutional decision making on campus. Clients have shared that the data feed into communication plans for recruiting new students and to stay engaged with current students on topics that matter to them. Here are a few examples of ways the data are being used at four-year private and public institutions, as well as community colleges across the country:
- With data slicing at the major/program level, reviewing perceptions and priorities for students to improve faculty interaction, advising, and access to classes within particular programs.
- Targeted activities to improve the financial aid process, timing, communication, and counselor interaction.
- Highlighted student results to attract prospective students in areas where the campus is currently performing well.
- Documenting significant shifts in student satisfaction year over year for accreditation requirements.
- For campus climate initiatives to share where students are satisfied with campus staff, administration, and faculty.
- To prioritize responses in areas such as campus safety perceptions or improvements needed in campus life activities.
Client institutions have shared that student satisfaction data focus their conversations and resource allocations to line up with student priorities. As a result, initiatives are identified and implemented for key challenge areas to change processes, procedures, or perceptions. Communication plans are then activated to inform students (and campus personnel) of the changes that were made based on the student responses to the Student Satisfaction Inventory, with subsequent satisfaction scores typically improving in the next survey administration as a result.
Using student satisfaction data in today’s environment
During this time of working off-campus, you may find you have time to review results from past administrations of the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), the Adult Student Priorities Survey (ASPS), or the Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL). The challenges identified by your students may be key areas to prioritize as you consider your budgets for the 2020-21 academic year. Your strengths can help you focus on the areas to highlight as you work to recruit new students. You can also use the strengths to remind your current students why they will want to return to campus when it is safe to do so. Be sure to tap into the data you have gathered in the past or make plans to survey again in the year ahead to stay current on the perceptions of your students in this current environment.
You can learn more about the RNL Satisfaction and Priorities Surveys and the best ways to utilize the data on your campus on our website. We also have a series of short tutorials on a variety of topics that may be of interest.