UMaine offers nationwide student survey to seniors and first-years

The Office of Assessment at the University of Maine has recently posted a survey designed for both first-year students and seniors to evaluate their experience and engagement at UMaine. The survey, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), was sent out on Feb. 14.

“It will be available online until May 31st, but obviously we are trying to get students to participate sooner,” Brian Doore, Director of the Office of Assessment, said. Doore has been the director for the past three years.

“My work is based around helping the university look at what students are learning in their chosen major and general education classes. I am also looking to see whether or not the student feedback matches up with what the university intended,” Doore said.

The NSSE is designed to be given to just first-year students and seniors for a particular reason.

“We look at students coming in as part of the college acceptance process. The first-years who take the survey now will take it again in three years. The survey is designed to help us understand what students experienced as freshmen and how that college experience has changed over three years as students prepare for graduation,” Doore said.

The core survey consists of 39 questions. There are also two additional module surveys with fewer questions. One of the shorter surveys is about first-year experiences and senior transitions while the other focuses on academic advising.

“There are a lot of questions about student advising. We are not looking at individual students, but rather larger groups of students. We want to ask whether or not they have received a good advising experience from their particular major,” Doore said.

Students are also getting some motivation to participate in the survey.

“For every student that takes the survey, the University Credit Union will donate $1 to a local food bank. This is a way of giving back to the community,” Doore said.

The UCU is donating money as recognition for the amount of time students are investing in taking the survey to make UMaine a better place. The data from the survey is used as a long term strategic plan for the university, meaning the Office of Assessment takes the feedback very seriously and will use the information to make changes where they see fit.

This is also the first time the survey has been administered at UMaine since 2008.

“We now have a plan in place to administer the survey every 3 years, which is why it is highly important that we get a high response rate for this current survey,” Doore said.

So far, the Office of Assessment has received some feedback, but the survey has only been up for three days.

“There were a total of 275 responses as of yesterday, which is roughly six percent of the group who received it,” Doore said.

Another important aspect of this survey is that it helps the Office of Assessment see where UMaine stands in relation to other universities across the country.

“This is a survey that is given to most colleges in North America. We get to see what students think and how their feedback compares with students from other universities. There is a lot of value in knowing how your school is doing vs. other universities,” Doore said.

Doore has high hopes that the survey will produce effective feedback and create an even better learning environment for incoming students, students in between and seniors on their way to graduation.

“I’m hoping that students get motivated by donating money to people in need and I’m also hoping that we can get at least half of the senior class and half of the freshman class to respond, which would be a huge amount of students,” Doore said.

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