Multiple Surveys say UW Students Pleased with Campus Experience
University of Wyoming students find tuition is a worthwhile investment and view the campus as safe and secure, according to the latest UW Student Opinion Survey (UWSOS).
The UWSOS, one of three student surveys conducted on a biennial basis since 1994, is composed of questions developed largely by Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. The 14-question (some included a number of sub-questions) survey is administered to the entire student body. In 2012, 1,680 UW students responded. The report was compiled by the Data Analysis and Special Projects Team of the UW Enrollment Management Council.
The Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (which includes 89 items) was first administered in 1998, while the American Collegiate Testing Inc. (ACT) survey (includes 65 categories of questions) was first used by UW in 1994. Results of these two surveys provide UW with national samples of public universities. In the 2012 Noel-Levitz survey figures, UW matched or exceeded the national average in 31 of the 89 categories. The university’s mean score equaled or exceeded the national mean score average in 46 of 65 categories on the 2012 ACT survey.
“We were pleased to see that, once again, our UW students are overwhelmingly pleased with the education they are receiving at the university,” says Sara Axelson, UW’s vice president for student affairs. “Furthermore, 89.4 percent indicated that they would recommend that a family member or friend attend UW. Equally satisfying was the significant number of questions on which UW students gave high marks to our faculty on their availability, advising and quality of instruction.”
Highlights from the latest UWSOS, with some results from the other two surveys, include:
- UW students are very satisfied with their university experience. More than 95 percent of students express approval of their UW education. The Noel-Levitz survey bore this out as well, recording 78 percent of students found it an enjoyable experience to be on campus, with 71 percent feeling a sense of belonging. Both figures are higher than the national average recorded in that survey. The ACT survey was similar, with 85 percent of students saying they were satisfied with UW in general, compared to the national average of 76 percent.
- Nearly eight of 10 students agreed that there is a commitment to academic excellence at UW, with only 9 percent disagreeing. In the Noel-Levitz survey, the number one positive was that students found that nearly all faculty members are knowledgeable in their field.
- During the last 18 years, a major improvement in student satisfaction has been the perception that UW is concerned for them as individuals. The ACT survey revealed that 82 percent of UW students approved of the attitude of faculty toward students. One UW student surveyed wrote, “I really enjoy the personal contact of the university. I feel people really care and take time to help you in any way possible.”
- UW students rate campus safety and security significantly higher than their counterparts at other public universities. Only 4 percent expressed dissatisfaction with campus safety. This was mirrored in the Noel-Levitz survey, in which students ranked safety and security second in their 10 most positive items.“Given the problems experienced by many institutions around the nation, it was reassuring to learn that UW students rate UW campus safety and security significantly higher than do their counterparts at other public universities,” Axelson says.
- Satisfaction with the UW library continued to increase, with 95 percent of students indicating that they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the library. Library resources and services ranked third out of the 10 most positive items in the Noel-Levitz survey.
- Students rate the quality of classrooms and laboratories above national averages. On both the Noel-Levitz and ACT surveys, student satisfaction with computer facilities received some of the highest ratings.
- In the past decade, satisfaction with race relations has improved. The past six years, students perceive that the campus is more tolerant of gay and lesbian students.
- Since 1998, the largest improvement has been students’ satisfaction with residence hall food service. The ACT survey showed UW with a mean score of 3.54 compared to the national average of 3.52.
- Nearly 75 percent of UW students find tuition to be a “worthwhile” investment while only 11 percent do not. “I’m from Michigan, and I know that I’m getting a better valued education at a better price here than I would at any in-state university there,” wrote one student who was surveyed.
- UW’s mass transit services are a major success, Ridership approaches 50 percent of students and overall satisfaction is significantly higher than the national average. UW satisfaction with mass transit (68 percent) is significantly higher than the national average (63 percent), according to the ACT survey.
- UW students are considerably more likely to be involved in recreational or intramural programs than students at other public universities, and they are significantly more satisfied.
- UW students indicate that they spend one hour of study for each hour in the classroom.
Axelson says the university is grateful to Ollie Walter, whom she credited with being the driving force behind the biennial survey for more than two decades. Walter, dean of UW’s College of Arts and Sciences, chairs the Data Analysis and Special Projects Team of the Enrollment Management Council.
“Through his efforts, the university has a longitudinal record of trends in student satisfaction and is able to compare our accomplishments against a national sample,” Axelson says. “His leadership in analyzing the results marked the beginning of several changes that have led to enhanced services and opportunities for our students.”