If a higher education institution’s (HEIs) strategic plan is to be successful, it must have evidence-based data to demonstrate its effectiveness. In other words, it must have facts and figures to prove that improvement initiatives are aligned with the strategic goals in order to advance the HEIs mission. Integrated into the strategic plans of most HEIs, student feedback data helps complete the story of institutional improvement and challenges from the perspective of their target audience – the students. Below we look at ways student feedback data can support three of the main pillars of an institution’s strategic plan.
1–Provide Evidence of Student Experience: One of the main strategic goals of any institution is to be the destination of choice for prospective students. To stay competitive HEIs need to ensure the quality of their educational product by continuously improving to meet the ever changing needs of current and future students. Feedback has an active function in assessing the overall student experience including curriculum and instructor effectiveness, learning outcomes, as well as support services. By analyzing feedback data over time, institutional leaders can understand trends in student sentiment and identify indicators that can assist in strategic alignment.
A method of gathering feedback, online course evaluations can allow HEIs to actively collect, summarize, and distribute student evaluation results at all levels of the institution. This level of reporting will give every stakeholder an in-depth understanding of their own student feedback data and the role it plays in the bigger picture. An advanced evaluation system will also enable them to add student demographics in order to create aggregate or comparative reports. The added intelligence of text analytics will offer more analysis points by converting open-ended student comments into meaningful themes.
2-Ensure Institutional Quality and Accreditation: Student feedback can play an integral part in re-confirming an institution’s program offerings, especially during the accreditation process. In fact, most accreditors require HEIs to have a process of defining, measuring, and showing how they are evaluating their programs and student achievement. What better way to demonstrate this than incorporating the feedback collected from student evaluation surveys into the data set submitted to accrediting authorities?
Accreditors also want universities and colleges to prove that they are maintaining data quality so that the information used to drive decisions are accurate, reliable, and consistent. By centralizing cleanup projects in a single repository, the Data Integrity Gateway (DIG) offers an effective way to clean and maintain high quality data regardless of the original source. By seamlessly integrating with an institution’s student information system (SIS), DIG ensures that the data used during Blue course evaluations is always clean and ready to use.
3-Demonstrate Leadership in Teaching Innovation and Excellence: How can HEIs track the progress of their instructors? How do they prove that instructors are effective in delivering a quality course experience for every student? In many colleges and universities, teaching improvement has been supported by the results of course evaluations. Student feedback data has also been taken into account for decisions regarding faculty tenure, promotion, and salary increase. Furthermore, a formative feedback tool in the classroom provides another data set that focuses on instructor-student interaction and the outcome of any remedial actions. This is especially valuable for instructors who wish to improve their end-of-term course evaluation results.
What are some other ways student feedback data, especially from course evaluations, can support an institution’s strategic plan? Comment below and let us know.
Chanel M. Sutherland
Marketing Content Specialist, eXplorance