Added Questions – Mission Accomplished

For the Noel-Levitz PSOL, there are spaces for 10 customized questions in addition to the 26 standard questions (statements, actually) where students indicate both their levels of importance and satisfaction. Since we give the survey in conjunction with many other MnSCU schools we all use five common statements that get at some of the data that they need to collect for the MnOnline system as a whole. That leaves five more survey slots for each college or university to ask whatever they want.

This year I made an effort to find five statements that the students would rank with high importance scores. I don’t fall into the camp that says that you need to keep asking the same questions each year for the sake of continuity. If a statement didn’t pan out with a high enough importance score in previous years, I want to try a new one in hopes of hitting those things that are most important to students.

I sent out a call to other MnSCU schools to try to find out which statements they had used in previous years that had the highest importance scores for students. I set up a wiki for people at other schools to share information about the added statements that they have used in previous years. Some good information was gathered through the wiki, but at the last second I had a bit of an epiphany – yet one that I wasn’t sure would bear fruit.

For five years now we’ve had an online course design peer review process, modeled after Quality Matters of MarylandOnline. It occurred to me that there would probably be some items in the course review rubric (sample completed rubric PDF) that would make worthy survey statements. BINGO! I picked five statements from different sections of the rubric and added them to the PSOL, statements 32-36. I was very pleased to see these five items come back with very high importance scores. In fact, the five LSC added items were all ranked in the top 10 (out of 36) for importance. Our five added statements are highlighted in red below.

FY09 Noel-Levitz PSOL (Priorities Survey for Online Learners) LSC Students
Item – Importance high to low (top 10 items only)
Import. Satisf. Gap
32. Layout of courses, as designed by instructors, is easy to navigate and understand. 6.60 5.83 0.77
33. Instructions to students on how to meet the course learning objectives are adequate and clearly written. 6.58 5.90 0.68
20. The quality of online instruction is excellent. 6.56 5.68 0.88
28. The online course delivery platform (Desire2Learn or D2L) is reliable. 6.56 6.04 0.52
34. Grading policies are easy to locate and understand in courses. 6.56 6.09 0.47
06. Tuition paid is a worthwhile investment. 6.55 5.77 0.78
18. Registration for online courses is convenient. 6.55 6.36 0.19
36. Clear standards are set in courses for instructor availability and response time. 6.55 5.99 0.56
31. Taking an online course allowed me to stay on track with my educational goals. 6.54 6.18 0.36
35. Instructional materials have sufficient depth in content to learn the subject. 6.54 5.91 0.63

In addition to the five highlighted in red above, statements #28 and #31 are part of the 5 added statements for MnOnline. Therefore, only 3 of the top 10 items come from the 26 standard statements on the basic PSOL.

This seems particularly reaffirming to me. One – it indicates that many of the items identified on the course design quality rubric are not just important to teachers, but they’re important to students as well (that’s not always the case). Two – because the satisfaction scores on those items are also pretty decent (all in the top 50% for satisfaction ranking), it also appears that our peer review process is making a difference that is recognized by students. Three – it’s always nice when you find out that what you thought should be important actually is important. Overall, I think all of us can be very proud of these survey results.

For the record, the five highlighted statements shown above correlate to the following standards on the LSC course design rubric:  I.2, II.2, III.2, IV.1, and V.3.

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