The third annual Great Service Matters professional development conference was held March 16-17. I am very grateful to the Great Service Matters committee for organizing such a successful conference attended by more than 170 employees.
The keynote, "Understanding the Priorities of Student and Campus Personnel to Improve Student Retention and Determine an Action Plan," included a three-hour session on Northeastern's Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) results, Fall 2010. The SSI analyzes student satisfaction and how it directly links to student success and retention. Julie Bryant, associate vice president, retention solutions, Noel-Levitz, presented the strengths and challenges identified in the results of the survey.
Bryant summarized the changes in results since the last survey at Northeastern in 2005. I was pleased to hear about the significant improvements made between 2005 and 2010. Students responded with higher satisfaction in 57 out of 73 items, or 78 percent. Bryant explained that this means that students responding to the 2010 survey were more satisfied than they were in 2005, students were more positive in 2010, and there have been improvements in the ways students have been served in the past five years.
The top three strengths identified by students in 2010 include:
- The content of courses within my major is valuable.
- Nearly all of the faculty are knowledgeable in their field.
- My academic adviser is knowledgeable about requirements in my major.
The top three challenges identified by students in 2010 include:
- The instruction in my major field is excellent.
- I am able to register for classes with few conflicts.
- Major requirements are clear and reasonable.
In addition, the 2010 survey included an Institutional Priorities Survey, which asked faculty and staff to report their perceptions of student satisfaction with various issues and services on campus. It was interesting to see how the perceptions of students compare to the perceptions of employees. Several items are viewed similarly, and others viewed differently. The overlapping strengths include "the content of courses within my major is valuable" and "nearly all of the faculty are knowledgeable in their field." Overlapping challenges include "I am able to register for classes with few conflicts" and "adequate financial aid is available for most students." One item that I found particularly interesting was the item that is viewed as a challenge to students but a strength to campus personnel: major requirements are clear and reasonable.
For those of you who were unable to attend the Great Service Matters conference, I have provided a link where you may review the presentation slides, which contain some details of the data I referenced above. Noel-LevitzSSIpresentationforPresMessage.pdf
As we reflect on these results it is important for all areas of the University to consider the data in initiating changes. Student satisfaction is at the heart of student success and retention at all universities. I am proud of the significant strengths exhibited in the results and know we will become even more student-centered as we continue to execute the goals of our strategic plan.