Student survey response rate lower than hoped

Mary Joan Nastri, Staff Writer

A low response during the first few days of the implementation of the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) survey has Madison College officials concerned. As a result, the deadline for completion has been extended to March 12.

Students can take the Student Satisfaction Inventory online at

The Student Satisfaction Inventory has been utilized by Madison College for the last dozen years to provide direction for college initiatives related to retention, strategic planning and student services. It is usually implemented every two years. The last one was in 2014.

Implementation of the survey this year began on Feb. 22. Through midday on Feb. 25, only 777 of the college’s 13,330 degree students had responded to the survey. That is just a little more than half of the 1,362 responses garnered during the first four days the last time the survey was conducted.

“The survey seeks input from our degree credit students so we can assess collectively what topics are important to them and if there are any gaps that the college may address,” said Zong Her, senior information technology project leader for Institutional Research and Effectiveness.

“Without an adequate number of responses, the results may not be representative of what the degree student body thinks is important and should be addressed with our limited resources.”

In addition, the survey benchmarks the college against similar colleges nationwide.

“It lets the college know how we are doing in meeting our students’ needs in comparison to other colleges,” Her said. “We use it as a key performance indicator in our accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.”

Her theorized that one reason the response rate may be low is due to survey fatigue.

“Due to the need to hear from our students on many fronts, the college had to send out multiple surveys this semester within a short timeframe,” Her said. “This may have led to survey fatigue (too many surveys). Please realize that the college is here for you, our students. … Without your feedback as a collective body, the college won’t know what to focus on with the limited resources.”

The survey is run by the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Co., which compiles data from the surveys so the college can see how it fares against similar schools nationwide.

The survey will take 20 minutes to complete. A mobile app is available, but you may have problems viewing it on your device. Degree credit students will receive the survey through their school email. A computer kiosk will be available at all campuses for students to use as well.

Dr. Keith Cornille, senior vice president of Student Development and Success, explains that often things that are flagged in the survey will promote further research into the issue.

A good example he said is the recent change that the financial aid office implemented in the new book charge. Many students, who receive financial aid, were not able to buy books until first day of classes. The survey showed it was important to students to purchase books beforehand. So, now students have a two-week window to purchase books. This is one example of a positive outcome of the survey.

Her said the college would like to have at least 14 percent of the degree students respond to the survey or a total of 1,866 responses. As of Feb. 26, 1,089 responses would be needed to meet that goal.

To try to increase the response rate, Her said the college has extended the deadline and is re-doubling its marketing efforts. Two more email notifications will be sent to students, faculty and staff are being asked to encourage students to compete the survey and more display notices are being placed on campus TV monitors.

In addition, students are reminded that completing the survey will enter them to win prizes in a random drawing. Those prizes include a $500 scholarship and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3.