Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Student Evaluation of Instruction/Course (SEI/C)?
The SEI/C is designed to help provide feedback to educators and ultimately improve the student experience. It will help us to continue building on our strengths.
Why is the College evaluating all courses?
The key thing going forward to ensure that the surveys provide valuable information to instructors and programs. By expanding the scope, there’s a better chance that we’ll have a more complete picture of what students think about the classes they’re taking.
Why did the Student Evaluation of Instruction/Course change from the previous method?
Previously SEI/C was done with a paper survey and only select instructors/courses were surveyed. As a result only a fraction of all courses could be done. This often meant the same instructors and courses were surveyed every year.
Why is it online? Read More →
Back in January 2013, the Know Your Numbers blog was launched by the Research and Planning department to begin a journey in data storytelling. The blog is meant to help the College Community discover the data gems that would otherwise lay hidden in the survey archives, remain buried in the depths of Colleague, or be left stuck on a roll of brown paper curled up in a storage room corner.
These stories highlight some of the wonderful events taking place at Red River College, all with at least a little bit of data added for good measure. Here is some of what you may have missed in the past 9 months:
- Our very first blog post was about the Academic Annual Report, a collaborative report that is chock full of data, charts, and more importantly some inspiring stories about this wonderful College and the accomplishments of people who work and study here.
- Social Media Usage among Red River College Staff and Faculty unveils the social media habits and attitudes of RRC staff and faculty. Spoiler alert! While many staff have discovered Facebook, very few have brought it (or other social media tools) into the classroom. Read More →
Most colleges and universities rely on student application data to develop student profiles, based on characteristics such as age, gender, and ethnicity. Some institutions use survey data to supplement this resource, as it provides a broader understanding of what students are like. Red River College falls into the latter group, using the Paths to Success survey to better understand who students are and how the college can more effectively support them in their studies.
This post looks at some of the characteristics of students who participated in the Paths to Success initiative over the last 4 years. While the Paths to Success survey does not cover all first year students it represents approximately 80% of this population, and is considered to be representative of first-year students overall.
Note: The Paths to Success initiative is targeted to first-year, full-time students who are just beginning their studies. Now in its eighth year, the initiative engages over 1,750 students each year from over 55 programs across the college.
Most students look to the RRC website for information
Just over 70% of students research their program on the RRC website before beginning their studies. Aside from program brochures, this is the only place where students can get detailed documented information on their program, including a program overview, course descriptions, contact information, admission requirements, and employment potential. Given that 30% don’t research their program on the web, it begs the question why they don’t use this resource.
Source: Paths to Success (2009-2012), n=5951
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The Graduate Satisfaction & Employment Survey is one of the tools used in Red River College’s quest to provide applied education that gets people into the workforce. The college contributes to Manitoba’s economy by graduating people who are ready to step into a career. Graduates of RRC’s programs have experienced many aspects of their chosen career from hands-on training, as well as the on-the-job work experience options available in many programs.
There is considerable value in the effort that respondents put into a survey. People completing this survey are using their own time to give us their opinion, to help us understand what is working well and what isn’t. They are letting us know how their time at Red River College has affected their lives. Whether or not it was a perfect experience, a graduate can let us know through this survey. We show everyone what the graduates said in the annual Graduate Satisfaction & Employment Report.
Who uses the survey information?
Prospective students, high school and college counselors, academic advisors, faculty, employment agencies, and many others involved in career planning use the Graduate Satisfaction & Employment Report. This is the public view of the survey data that helps people learn about our programs and see how they connect to the labour market.
The report includes tables and charts at a college-wide, school, and program level providing employment, satisfaction, and salary information. The Occupation chapter provides a listing of graduates’ job titles and related programs that is an easy-to-use tool for determining which program will lead a person to their desired career.
The data collected from this survey is also used in various formats by the College to improve programs and satisfy the Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE) reporting requirements.
What do graduates say?
Read More →
Red River College is the province’s largest post-secondary institution for diploma and certificate programs. In the 2011/12 academic year, the College had 9,135 students enrolled in full-time programs, 16,530 part-time registrations, and 3,408 apprenticeship students.
Not surprisingly, the college’s website generates a significant amount of web traffic on a daily basis from staff, students, prospective students, industry and employers and the general public. Looking at a snapshot of the last 3 months, the RRC website had almost 200,000 unique visitors viewing more than a million web pages.
To help the college get a glimpse of what’s going on, Research and Planning uses tools like Google Analytics as well as other web analytic tools to help understand what pages people are looking at, how they discover the website, and how long they stay.
The Wellness Blog: A Case Study
While there are many ways that web analytics are used to understand the RRC website, one interesting case study has been using these tools to get a better understanding of the College’s blogs – particularly the Wellness blog.
The Wellness blog was created in January 2012 to provide a collaborative communication hub for the Wellness Committee, other wellness stakeholders at the college, and for staff and students. Over the past fifteen months, the blog has featured 130 posts from twenty-five authors on topics ranging from recipes and recreational activities to meditation and mental health.
Along the way Google Analytics has been used to help answer three main questions:
- Who is visiting the blog?
- What drives traffic to the blog?
- What posts are people reading?
What makes a great campus? For some, a great campus is defined by the quality of the learning spaces – including the way the space is designed, the availability of learning technology, and the overall functionality of the space. For others, the quality of one’s workspace is key, as many people want (need) a safe and ergonomically designed environment, with sufficient spaces to interact with others and/or to work without distraction.
Of course there are many other components that contribute to a great campus environment, ranging from the spaces where we support students, to campus services like cafeterias, retail spaces, and parking lots. Internal and external public spaces also come into play, from the ability to meet and interact in hallways or to gather in other social spaces with students or colleagues. At some campuses, the green spaces outside are also vitally important, as is the connection to the local community of shops, businesses, and industry.
The Campus Master Plan
The “document” that helps a college plan tasks like designing quality learning and workspaces, creating new buildings, making the campus easy to navigate, planning for transportation services, and attending to the greenspaces is called a Campus Master Plan. The consultation process that led to the development of the current Strategic Plan (2012-2015) recognized campus planning as a vital task for addressing these issues, and as a result, identified it as a strategic action.
Newly designed learning space for Culinary Arts students at the Patterson GlobalFoods Institute
The “atrium” at the Roblin Centre – Exchange District Campus (EDC)
As noted above, a Campus Master Plan needs to consider many things. It needs to take into account the communities and neighborhoods that surround the College, the transportation systems that serve the College, the infrastructure (for example, water and electrical), the landscape, how the buildings are located, the likely growth of the College, how the College community interacts, and where new buildings should go. It also needs to consider sustainability issues – social, economic, and environmental – in the use of materials and design of spaces. This is continuing with the tradition set in the design of other recent RRC buildings such as HETC and the Patterson GlobalFoods Institute. The theme of diversity and community are also important, as the College spaces need to appeal to a very diverse student body who literally make the campus their “home” while they are studying.
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The Staff Survey is used to help support the People Plan and a variety of other stakeholders from across the College – including the Wellness Committee (see the FAQs about the Staff Survey post for more info).
Before wading into the data, I should disclose that I have been a member of the Wellness Committee since December 2008 and recently became a co-chair over the past year. So while I’m presenting the data-driven side of the story, many of the insights are drawn from having applied these findings as part of the Committee’s activities.
The Road Map
The staff survey was first used to gather wellness-related feedback back in February 2009, and it has been used many times since to explore and understand a variety of topics including:
- Understanding how staff define “Wellness” and “being healthy”,
- Identifying and prioritizing the strategies that the Wellness Committee should pursue,
- Gauging the types of wellness activities that people currently participate in and those which they’d like to do more of,
- Conducting market research on the effectiveness of Wellness events and activities – such as the Chili Cup and the Wellness blog,
- Developing some baseline measures to gauge people’s personal sense of wellness and the social/environmental conditions that could potentially improve it.
Part 1 is going to tackle the first two items on the list.
What constitutes wellness?
As a starting point, the Wellness Committee wanted to get a better understanding of how staff define “being healthy” to see whether there was a dominant definition to help guide the committee’s activities. Not surprisingly, the definitions of “being healthy” covered a broad spectrum of ideas – including physical health, recreation and athletics; mental and emotional health and stress relief; and spiritual well-being.
Read More →
Why does the College have a Staff Survey?
Using staff surveys to gather feedback is a common practice. Typically, staff surveys are conducted as a census administered by an external consultant once every few years. Prior to 2008, RRC also used this method. The downside to this approach is that the information is less responsive to immediate needs and changes within an organization, and the emphasis is more likely to be on tracking measures and benchmarks rather than process improvement.
When the People Plan initiative was created in 2008 as outlined in the Strategic Plan (2008-2011), RRC’s Director of Research and Planning, Ashley Blackman, suggested a monthly survey model similar to one that he had helped develop while working for the private sector. This monthly staff survey was primarily meant to inform and support the People Plan initiative, while also providing a valuable feedback tool for a range of other College business areas and committees. The monthly survey contains both benchmarks for tracking change over time and monthly topical question to help address more immediate issues. The staff survey is now in its fifth year, with over 2,515 surveys completed to date.
Are my responses confidential?
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Student success is a crucial focus at Red River College. Their success is our success. So how do we learn about student success? One way is to ask them. That’s what we do when we ask students to complete the Student Evaluation of Program Survey (SEPS) just as they are finishing their program.
A few thousand students are asked to provide their opinions about different areas of their college experience, from facilities and services to instruction and program quality. They are also asked to share their comments on their experience at RRC – what they like and what they think could be better. This wealth of information is used annually to improve programs, facilities, and services to students.
*RRC Employment Rate is calculated for those in the labour force.
+RRC Student Satisfaction includes only those expressing an opinion.
Note: Comparisons should be viewed with some caution. Different survey techniques and variations in questions can produce misleading results. In addition, college to college comparisons can produce misleading results due to a variety of factors, such as college size, local employment conditions, program mix and respondent demographics. Ontario colleges use a five point scale while RRC uses a four point scale for Student Satisfaction in this table.
What the heck do you do with all that Data?
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What is it reputation?
Reputation is a measure of the beliefs, opinions and impressions that one generally has about something. In the case of Red River College, reputation can be based on many things:
- one’s experience as a student, or as the parent or friend of a student at the College;
- hiring or working alongside RRC graduates;
- advertisements, such as the billboards found around the city that celebrate College alumni; and,
- what one reads in the newspaper or discusses in casual conversation.
Why is it important?
Having a strong reputation is important for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it can influence the decisions of potential students as they weigh out their post-secondary options. Similarly, it affects which staff and instructors the college is able to hire, in its quest to build a strong and competitive workforce and be an employer of choice. Finally, it can affect the views of our stakeholders – including industry and employers, government, and the general public – and how they work with us.
How do we measure reputation?
Read More →