How Are We Doing? Update on Student Satisfaction

Update published September 30, 2019

In September the Institute launched a new Student Satisfaction survey. It also changed the way it presents its Course Evaluation survey to students. Read on to learn why surveys are important to the Institute at this stage in its development, and what the surveys are indicating.

Accreditation Standards. One of the purposes of the Student Satisfaction survey is to measure how we’re doing as an organization in comparison to the standards set by accreditation agencies. The survey is intentionally short. It consists of nine quick multiple choice questions followed by one optional open ended question for additional comments. The average time spent on the survey is 2 minutes. We want this to be a really easy task for students because we need more students to take the survey. The reason for this is that one of the criteria for the accrediting body is that a minimum 30% of students should complete the survey.

Historically, about 9 to 10% of students on average have completed the Institute’s Course Evaluation survey. This is not an unreasonable response, considering the survey is actually quite long. We were therefore hopeful that with this very short survey, we would be able to attain the 30% minimum. Here are the results from both surveys.

Course Evaluation: About 360 students completed courses between the end of May (when the revamped survey was launched) and the end of August.
Forty (40) students have completed this survey. That’s about 11%.
Student Satisfaction: About 145 students completed courses between early August (when the survey was launched) and today.
To date, twenty-two (22) students completed the survey. That’s about 15%.

Satisfaction Survey Results. Although the 15% who completed the survey expressed a high level of satisfaction in general, these results (see below) are not very helpful because they are not representative of the student body. The Institute needs to know what aspects of its services cause the most difficulty for students, so it can work to improve on those areas.

Piechart showing all respondents respondent "yes" to Question about overall satisfaction

Pie chart from Student Satisfaction Survey (Q1)

As this pie chart (left) and donut chart (below/right) show, the students who took the survey are satisfied with the Institute’s services overall, and would definitely recommend the Institute’s courses to their friends. We know this is true because many of the newcomers to the Institute indicate on registration that they heard about the course from a friend.

Donut chart showing all respondents said "yes" to Question about referring a friend

Donut chart from Student Satisfaction Survey (Q2)

The survey also showed that the Institute’s courses are considered to give excellent value for money. 71% of respondents said our courses were “Excellent” value for money, while the other 29% said “Above average.” This is no doubt due to the 2019 First-Timer Discount program, which offers learners in most courses a flat fee of just ten dollars for their first course.

Similar results were obtained for the questions on course quality (54% Very high quality, 39% High quality) and faculty quality (54% Very high quality, 27% High quality).

Responding to Student Needs. The results for the  Institute’s responsiveness to student queries were less clear-cut. Obviously, not everyone needs to contact the Institute directly about courses. You can register online, follow the instructions in your confirmation email, and never have occasion to interact directly with your faculty-mentor, the Director, the Registrar, or the Helpdesk. But, if you need help, chance are you are going to need it quickly. We cannot at this time promise 24/7 service, but we do aim to handle most student queries within 24 hours. Here are the results for the Question: “How responsive have we been to your questions or concerns about this course?”

Donut chart showing responses to Question about responsiveness of WI staff to queries

Here is where we can see room for improvement, and the Institute has already taken action to improve on this aspect of its operations. One of the functions of both the new Course Catalog and Student Handbook is to make it easier for students to get up-to-date information on the Institute’s programs and policies, as well as contact details for staff.  A faculty directory is an obvious step for the future.

Where to go for help. The main contact students need to know is the Helpdesk email: learn@wilmetteinstitute.org. You can also reach the Registrar’s office by telephone: (847) 733-3466. You will need to leave a message, so for more urgent queries please use email.

For less urgent inquiries, students can set up an appointment to speak one-one-one with the Registrar, by phone or videoconference. Use this link to schedule a meeting via Calendly: https://calendly.com/wi-registrar/learner-help.

An example of how we are using course evaluation survey results. In September the Racism in America faculty met to review the eight (8) course evaluations it received from the March course. After consultation, several actions were taken, including:

  • One of the respondents was invited to be a Discussant in the next iteration of the course, which will start on October 10th.
  • Several respondents were contacted for more detailed feedback on the course materials.
  • Two separate suggestions for additional course resources are being implemented.
  • Live videoconferences, which were reported as “very useful” by the majority of respondents, will be hosted again, but with a new focus/framework of discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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