The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) is recognized by the US Department of Education as the designated institutional accrediting body for over 650 post-secondary, trade and technical schools, which provide vocational education to over 150,000 students each year. That’s a roundabout way of saying that the ACCSC has a vested interest in maintaining a high quality of education for a lot of students. As such, the ACCSC invited client partner Cyanna to present at the September 2020 Professional Development Conference on the topic of utilizing student surveys and student feedback in general to improve quality of education.
David Grimes, Cyanna’s Director of Academics, has spent over a decade as a career college professional and thus has a wealth of experience and knowledge on the topic of running a school successfully, so he made for a perfect choice to speak at length on the topic to the staff of ACCSC. Feel free to watch David’s full presentation if you have the time, or read up on our primary takeaways below.
Student surveys are typically thought of as a waste, when in reality, student surveys can help you, your students, and your school to continuously improve the student experience. Here’s how to utilize them effectively.
Surveys should not be a surprise, nor an afterthought for students. So forget about automated emails or wooden suggestion boxes that collect dust in the corner. Make surveys an active part of your student’s class experience. The most important aspect of ensuring that happens is to create a regularly scheduled survey so that students will come to anticipate the need for their feedback and feel that it is being taken seriously. Conducting a regularly scheduled survey is essential to the success of the surveys and your school. Talking with your team about how often to administer these surveys is crucial so everyone can remain on the same page. The schedule for the surveys is different for every school, so assess with your team to find the right fit.
Here comes the part of actually creating the survey. Creating a mission statement for your school, which should be a featured part of the student survey, allows for students to know what will happen with their answers. The surveys should be focused on areas of improvement and the goals of your school. Giving the student a place to explain and comment on their experience is very helpful in gauging their answer. Explaining the survey's intent is also a big factor in motivating students to complete it thoroughly.
Looking at the responses of your students' surveys can reveal whether there are issues with the questions themselves. The most common problem is vagueness of questions, which of course tend to result in vague responses. Diving deeper into student responses helps identify the questions that could be worded better, and makes sure students have a clear understanding of the prompt. Did students tend to miss the point of the question? Assume the problem lies with the question and not the student.
Please feel free to get in touch if you have questions specific to student surveys, or just how to improve your school in general.