To build on Cape Breton University’s ongoing commitment to enhance the student educational experience, the University is participating in three well-established student surveys – National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC) and the Globe and Mail Survey. “Tell the Real CBU Story” is the platform for internal messaging to students as their opinions and experiences historically have been far more positive than recent national rankings have publicized. All three surveys are important learning and response tools for CBU as a competitive post-secondary institution. The first survey, NSSE, was launched on January 31.
Through a collective effort to encourage student participation, several invested groups including senior administration, faculty, staff and the CBUSU are combining skills to create student awareness of and engagement in the survey process.
“These surveys are supported by most universities across Canada and beyond,” says Alexis Manley, Vice-President, Student Services and Registrar. “The results and analysis will provide us with valuable feedback that will enhance institutional planning and development, impact change, offer insights for our recruitment team and support efforts to strengthen our image as a highly reputable undergraduate institution.”
NSSE, administered across North America, is a survey of best educational practices. It assesses the overall quality of education by examining such things as level of academic challenge, student-faculty relationships, and active and collaborative learning opportunities. NSSE recognizes that an enriching educational experience extends beyond the classroom and therefore the survey also looks at participation in community-based projects, diversity in the student body, technology usage, and student services. This survey is open to all first and fourth year students. NSSE results will provide valuable information that can be used to shape change in identified areas of the broader campus experience and environment. As well, the results from the NSSE survey will impact public perceptions of the university, as selected results are published annually by Maclean’s Magazine in their University Student Issue.
CUSCadministers a Canada-only survey that looks at detailed aspects of the undergraduate student experience. The CUSC survey is largely focused on student satisfaction, asking students to assess their level of satisfaction with such things as class sizes, facilities, and services. The survey also gives students the opportunity to identify their top priorities for improvement at the university. Each year, the CUSC survey targets one of three student populations: first-year students, graduating students, and all undergrads. The target group for 2011 is all undergrads, so a random sample of all undergraduate students will be selected to take part in the CUSC survey this year.
The Globe and Mail Surveycompares Canadian universities based exclusively on the Globe and Mail student survey, conducted in partnership with Higher Education Strategy Associates. Students are asked to evaluate universities on a variety of criteria, including quality of teaching, course availability/variety, physical infrastructure, and atmosphere. Students are also asked to define their university’s ‘personality’ by indicating whether or not it is nurturing and supportive, encourages independence, has a diverse student body, is innovative, and is open to new approaches. Annually, the Globe and Mail publishes the Canadian University Report with the results of this survey. This publication comes out in the fall of the year.
“CBU has an opportunity to do well in all of these surveys as they measure areas where CBU excels and can clearly reflect student satisfaction levels. I am delighted that these surveys assess student experience and deliver responses that allow us to measure against expectations and address areas for potential improvement. Exceptional student experience is something CBU prides itself on and surveys such as these help us to accomplish this. We are counting on our students to use the survey tool to share their views and we will be promoting survey participation in many ways throughout this term,” adds Manley.