Purdue survey helps guide changes to programs, services, though students generally satisfied

September 16, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -  Purdue University students give high marks to campus programs and services, according to a recent survey.

The 2013 Purdue Student Satisfaction Survey shows that in an evaluation of 109 programs and services, each one received favorable ratings.

For the survey, administered by the Division of Student Affairs, about one-third of the students on campus were invited to participate, with numerous demographics considered. About 3,298 people - 27 percent of the sample - participated. Respondents were asked to select one of four ratings: Bad; Not as Good as Expected; As Good as Expected; and Great. Students also could type in comments.

The results (available online at http://www.purdue.edu/students/survey/) will be used to help the university improve in given areas and to also show which programs or services need more promotion so that students know all the resources available to them.

"We wanted more from this survey than a vague sense of things being OK," said Lee Gordon, assistant vice president for student affairs said of the survey that was administered last January and February. "We wanted a roadmap for improvement that administrators could act upon."

Thirteen offices across the university participated, and survey-takers were asked to evaluate: arts and culture; bursar services; The Center for Career Opportunities; financial aid; housing and food services; international students and scholars programs, the Office of the Dean of Students; Purdue Graduate School; Purdue Memorial Union; Purdue Police Department; the Purdue Student Health Service; recreational sports programs; the Office of the Registrar; and ROTC programs.

"The overall trend of answers in the survey is toward the positive. Even the unexciting, administrative functions get a strong favorable response," Gordon said. "We think this is because students who are happy at Purdue tend to let their overall attitude shape their assessment of each particular program or service. But sometimes the particular experiences shape the overall attitude. Sometimes cheerful and helpful staff in the bursar's office or in financial aid makes a tremendous difference in students' overall satisfaction."

Every program received at least twice as many favorable ratings - As Good as Expected or Great - as unfavorable, said Andy Zehner, assessment and data analyst in the student affairs office. Only about 1 percent of respondents gave the lowest ratings five or more times.

"We didn't just look at the overall ratings for each program or service. We looked at the number of responses and asked whether that number is high enough," Zehner said.  And then we looked at the demographic breakouts of opinion, because programs ought to serve all students equally well."

The highest-rated feature was the new climbing and bouldering wall at the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center, with 82.4 percent of respondents checking "Great."

The least favorable rating was for the Get Involved website, a club and event planning resource in the Office of Student Activities and Organizations, with 16.6 percent responding "Great," and 54.4 percent "As Good as Expected." In response, the student activities and organizations office has redesigned the website, renamed it B-Involved, and has implemented a new system this fall. B-Involved makes it easier for students to schedule and promote co-curricular activities and rewards students for their out-of-class activities.

The university has initiated other improvements. The student health center, for instance, responded to concerns about appointment scheduling by introducing online scheduling just before the academic year began. The Center for Career Opportunities has moved to an expanded and modernized suite in Young Hall. New tennis courts are being planned to replace those removed to make room for the Center for Student Excellence and Leadership and Vawter Hall. The Division of Student Affairs is improving communications to students by introducing AfterClass (www.purdue.edu/afterclass), a new website for students to engage, involve, and connect with programs outside of the classroom. 

"Every department needs to boost its efforts to publicize its programs and services," Gordon said. "We know that the programs are good, but we also know that thousands of students - probably the students who need the most help - don't even know what all is available to them."

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu 

Sources: Lee Gordon, 765-494-0246, leegordon@purdue.edu

 Andrew Zehner, 765-494-6743, alzehner@purdue.edu

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