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ImproveND survey to address issues

Kristen Durbin | Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research is conducting the inaugural ImproveND survey to effectively address the many aspects of campus life at Notre Dame. The survey includes both student input on campus life and contributions from more than 30 service-providing campus units.

The survey — which students can complete through Jan. 29 — includes a wide variety of questions pertaining to nearly all aspects of campus life. In addition, these questions vary for undergraduate, graduate and professional students at the University. Comment boxes are also provided at the end of the survey so students can express their unique views and opinions on the topics covered by the survey and on any part of campus life.

“The goal of ImproveND is to comprehensively assess the effectiveness of internal co-curricular and extra-curricular services provided to Notre Dame students,” Julia Sama, the administrator who coordinated the survey project, said. “As a result of the survey, we anticipate confirming areas of strength and identifying opportunities for improvement related to campus services.”

The creators of the survey consulted with nearly every campus unit that provides services to students, including Admissions, the Office of Alcohol & Drug Education, Athletics, Campus Ministry, the Career Center, the Center for Social Concerns, Financial Aid, Food Services, Health Services, the Provost, Residence Life & Housing and many other important campus entities.

Student suggestions and complaints were also heavily considered in the creation of the survey. Any issues that had been brought to the attention of the University and the survey’s creators were translated into questions on the survey.

In fact, the survey had to be condensed due to the large number of questions it included.
“Student opinion is sincerely valued by all of the campus units providing [services],” Sama said. “All of the units are eager to hear what elements of their services are working and which ones could benefit from improvement.”

Student body president Grant Schmidt noted the survey is similar to last year’s student census, but this survey is a much bigger deal and focuses more heavily on student services on campus.

“My job is to represent the concern of students by taking their suggestions and questions,” Schmidt said. “The biggest thing is that the University consults the student body and will have plans of action in mind after the survey is completed.”

Schmidt also said while the survey is an honest evaluation of things that need improvement, it also highlights positive aspects of campus life, such as the Career Center and Food Services.

According to Sama, once the survey ends, the results will be reviewed during the spring semester with the campus units involved. These units will collaborate during spring and summer to address the results with action plans for those areas that call for improvement.

Both Schmidt and Sama said all issues that need improvement would have to be thoroughly considered on the bases of feasibility, financial possibility and general need.

Once these areas are addressed, the University and the campus units involved in the survey will be able to proactively use the results of the survey to improve campus life.

There is no set timeline in which this change will occur because the survey results will be analyzed in terms of trends and segmented groups, such as male responses and female responses or responses from students living on and off campus. 

The final results will not be available until later in the semester.

The ultimate impact and effectiveness of the survey depends primarily on student responses.

Ideally, the organizers hope the entire student population will take the survey. So far, 33 percent of undergraduates and 46.5 percent of law students have completed the survey. Graduate students received their survey invitation this week.

“We truly hope to see as high a percentage participation as possible, and at a minimum are hoping for a sizable majority of students to provide their feedback on the survey,” Sama said.

In order to encourage students to complete the survey, several prize incentives are being offered, such as $500 off of textbook purchases, gift cards and a tour of Notre Dame Stadium. The residence hall with the highest survey participation rate will win the opportunity to use the Purcell Pavilion for a dance or hall event later in the year, free of rental charges.

Once a student completes the survey, he or she is automatically eligible to win any of the aforementioned prizes.

Students can visit improve.nd.edu for more information about the survey.