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Students give feedback in Improve ND survey

Kristen Durbin | Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Correction: In the April 20 edition, the graphic, right, depicting percentages of undergraduate student satisfaction taken from the ImproveND survey misidentified the percentages of student satisfaction. The graphic should have read: 91 percent of students were satisfied with extracurriculars, 88 percent were satisfied with sense of community, 78 percent were satisfied with support of students and 41 percent were satisfied with diversity on campus. The Observer regrets this error.

If students notice improvements in campus services and facilities upon arriving to campus next fall, they can thank the 51 percent of the undergraduate student body that responded to the University’s ImproveND survey.

The Office of Strategic Planning administered the survey in January to undergraduate, law and graduate students in order to assess student opinions on campus services.

Overall, 51 percent of undergraduates, 58 percent of law students and 41 percent of graduate students responded to the survey, according to survey results.

The survey questions pertained to three main categories: academics, extra- and co-curricular activities and campus environment and services. Each of these categories included subcategories such as campus safety, food services, RecSports, academic advising and cellular reception, among several others.

The results of the survey were recently sent to each service-providing unit on campus and student government, Erin Harding, associate vice president for Strategic Planning, said.

“We have asked both the campus units and student government to return their suggestions and priorities for which aspects of campus services should be changed to the Office of Strategic Planning by mid-May,” Harding said. “We will then go through the compilation of suggestions and prioritize the things to be changed.”

Although overall undergraduate satisfaction rates were extremely high for the categories of academic experience, extracurriculars and sense of community, only 41 percent of survey respondents said they were happy with diversity on campus and international student interaction.

“The 96 percent satisfaction rate for academic experience was terrific,” Harding said. “However, the lower satisfaction rates correspond with the University’s focus on improving both ethnic and international diversity on campus.”

Harding said she was surprised to see that 46 percent of respondents had not volunteered at all during the first semester of this school year. However, she said the wording of the question could have affected the results.

“We don’t know if that low percentage was because the question asked about first semester volunteering or if students volunteer infrequently,” Harding said. “Either way, that gives us quite a bit to think about.”

One figure the University and, more specifically, the Office of Information Technology (OIT), may be able to address in the short-term is student satisfaction with cellular reception on campus. According to the survey, 60 percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with cellular reception, whereas 28 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

“OIT has asked our office for more data on this issue so they can really start to address it,” Harding said. “We will probably see some improvement in this area as an outcome of the survey results.”

Another area of relative dissatisfaction was with the [email protected] system. Fifty-six percent of respondents reported satisfaction with the system and 63 percent were interested in more public print stations on campus. These results could potentially lead to improvement in the near future, Harding said.

In addition, students may see more concrete improvements in RecSports in the next year due to the high percentage of respondents that listed the renovation or possible expansion of the Rockne Memorial Building as a priority.

Although over 80 percent of respondents were satisfied with fitness and instructional classes, club sports and intramural sports alike, the survey results will prove helpful to RecSports in seeing what they can improve over time, Harding said. 

Other areas that demonstrate room for improvement are awareness of gender relations and multicultural student services, as well as the value for price of merchandise and textbooks at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. Harding said the Bookstore is considering implementing a textbook rental program in the future.

While the results of the survey will undoubtedly help the University determine which areas of campus services to improve upon and how to do so, these prospective changes are not finalized by any means, Harding said.

“We will have a more definitive list of improvements by next fall,” Harding said. “By then, we hope to be able to communicate what changes resulted from responses to the survey.”
In addition, Harding emphasized the ability of students to make their opinions heard on the various issues addressed by the survey.

“If students have any questions or ideas, they are more than welcome to contact the Office of Strategic Planning,” Harding said. “The whole point of the survey is to improve campus services for students.”

Harding also said the Office of Strategic Planning hopes to administer the survey on a regular basis to measure improvement or show additional concerns. Currently, the Office plans to conduct the survey every other year.