National Survey important part of school growth
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09
The survey all freshman and senior students received in their email may be used to change the University to better meet students’ needs, but many are still choosing to ignore it.
The National Survey of Student Engagement, NSSE, is conducted every other year, asking freshman and senior students of participating institutions specific questions. These questions range from how much time students spend commuting to class to asking how their communication skills improved, according to Diane Maldonado, associate vice president of academic and student affairs at Point Park University.
The survey results give the faculty and staff a perception of how their students feel about the current programs, classes and activities provided by the university.
Point Park has conducted this survey since 2007, with the hope that they can create a better environment for students to earn an education. However, the student participation is an issue. In the recent 2011 survey only 255 freshman and 380 seniors participated. That is roughly 20 percent of the student body, according to Maldonado.
One reason for the lack of student participation in the NSSE is the survey’s length. With fourteen separate question categories, students are asked over 100 questions. When students see how long survey takes them, they simply ignore it.
“Time is a factor for students” said Alicia Lyons, a secondary education major, who completed the survey.
Students see the length and put it aside, saying “oh I’ll just do it tonight” and then they never end up doing it, according to Lyons.
If students want to see changes in their university, both academically and socially, then they need to participate in surveys, like the NSSE, so they can have a voice, according to Maldonado.
“This is where the students have clear input into trying to improve the curriculum,” said Maldonado in her office last Wednesday.
Unlike recent surveys that are commonly ignored by students, the NSSE is anonymous, which helps students be more honest with their answers.
“We want to get past the perception that this is a non-scientific throwaway survey that’s a sort of waste of time,” said Lindsay Onufer, assessment coordinator at Point Park, in Maldonado’s office last Wednesday.
With the current revisions of core curriculums brought on by Project 2020, it is important to get an accurate reading of student voices.
“The NSSE this year is going to play a huge role in that project,” Onufer said.
Not only does the NSSE help the University make important changes for the students, but it also helps the University compare itself to other institutionsthat partake in the same survey. Point Park is only one of the over 600 institutions nationwide, both private and public, that take part in the NSSE. By comparing results from other institutions similar to Point Park, the university can make similar improvements.
“It’s a way to help monitor our progress. So we can see where we should be making some improvements where we didn’t do as well as our peers,” Maldonado said.
Like most surveys students receive there is an added incentive for participation. When students complete the NSSE they are entered for a chance to win either a Starbucks gift card or an Ipod Nano.
But according to Maldonado, “the Prize is the input that you give to improve your education by contributing to the university experience.”