Student response rate to surveys decreasing

The student response rate to surveys circulated by Geneseo’s Office of Institutional Research has declined since the survey system was computerized last year.

“We have been making an effort to move to more online administration,” said Director of Institutional Research Julie Rao. “With the surveys online now, our student response rate has dropped. Our main goal at the moment is to increase survey awareness and impress upon students the importance of their responses.”

The Office of Institutional Research moved toward online administration of surveys in order to increase sustainability by decreasing paper consumption and the amount of class time previously used to complete surveys.

“Having the surveys online saves costs, but even the [Student Opinion of Faculty Instruction] response rate for the fall semester was considerably lower than before, with only about 40 percent of students responding as opposed to the usual 60 percent,” said Rao.

Within the next two weeks, Geneseo will undergo the Middle States evaluation, which will help to determine areas of strength and weakness within its educational setup.

“With the Middle States evaluation coming up, gathering student opinion is very important,” said Rao. “Surveys may not be the best way, but they allow administration to take the temperature of what is going on. They show creditors, [the State University of New York system] and the world what we’re doing and what students think of it.”

“These surveys are also important because they are an opportunity for the students’ voices to be heard,” said Accreditation Coordinator of Institutional Research Katie Tierney. “Information that comes from the students is really useful and it will help the college to make changes.”

Recently, the results of the National Survey of Student Engagement brought to the forefront the issue of diversity on campus. “The results of the survey gave credence to the issues brought up by students of diversity,” said Rao. As a result, Campus Diversity Plan, Real World Geneseo, Deliberative Dialogues and the Multi-Cultural Organization Space for Activities, Inclusion and Collaboration were installed on campus.

Similarly, as a result of a survey reflecting general dissatisfaction concerning academic advisement, the Task Force on Advisement was created.

The Office of Institutional Research is currently working toward increasing the student response rate to the online surveys.

“The better the response rate, the better the data is,” said Tierney.

“We’re looking for ideas as to how to increase our response rate,” said Rao. “With the current budget and its restrictions, it is hard to create incentives to fill out the surveys. The things that we can get for free, like T-shirts and mugs, are just not attractive to students.”

“We are going to try to make more presentations to the Student Association about the data to show that it doesn’t just disappear into a black box,” said Rao.

“Sharing results of the surveys is important because people will realize that changes are being made based on their opinions,” said Tierney.

The Office of Institutional Research is currently circulating a number of surveys including the National Survey of Student Engagement and the SUNY Student Opinion Survey.