Carleton Scores on Student Satisfaction
Ottawa Final-year undergraduate students at Carleton University are increasingly satisfied with their university experience, according to the 2009 Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC).
In the latest survey, 92 per cent of Carleton respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their education, compared with an average of 88 per cent for similar post-secondary institutions across Canada that participated. The 1,116 Carleton students who participated in the CUSC survey were also more likely than those of other universities, on average, to report that their education experience exceeded their expectations.
Overall, the survey records a trend of increased satisfaction among Carleton respondents from 2006, when the last survey of graduating students was conducted, to 2009.
When asked if they would recommend their university to others, 90 per cent of Carleton students said yes, an increase compared with 86 per cent recorded in 2006.
“This is great news for us as we have worked very hard to enhance the student experience on many fronts at Carleton over the past few years,” says Suzanne Blanchard, associate vice-president (enrolment management) and university registrar. “Not only are our graduating students sending us kudos, but the word is out and our registration for new first-year students jumped by seven percent this fall.”
The survey showed there were increased levels of agreement with all of the following statements:
• Most of my professors seemed knowledgeable in their field.
• Most of my professors were reasonably accessible outside of class to help students.
• Most of my professors were well organized in their teaching.
• Some professors at this university have had a major positive influence on my academic career.
• Most professors’ teaching was intellectually stimulating.
• Most of my professors provided useful feedback on my academic performance.
• Most of my professors were knowledgeable of career opportunities in my field.
• Most of my professors encouraged students to participate in class discussions.
“We use the results of this and other surveys to help create an outstanding learning experience for our current and future students,” says Blanchard. “We continue to grow the areas where we excel and build on the areas that need further development.”
The CUSC results highlighted three areas where students thought Carleton could improve - commitment to environmental sustainability, the quality of teaching assistants and personal safety.
Since the survey was conducted in March 2009, Carleton announced a new Emergency Notification System, the most comprehensive of its kind on a Canadian campus. Last year, the university spent $1.6 million to upgrade its security features.
In March, the university hired its first sustainability officer, Murdo Murchison, to develop an awareness strategy and a blueprint to continue greening the campus. A new website has been created at www.carleton.ca/physicalplant/sustainability/index.html and there are now four special waste recycling centres for all students, staff and faculty that accept disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries, cellphones and toner cartridges.
“While batteries and toner cartridges are a relatively small part of the overall waste generated at Carleton, they contain some nasty substances,” says Murchison. “That it is why it has been a priority for Carleton to establish this program with the help of the Stewardship Ontario Program.”
In residences, Carleton launched a program called REWIRE to challenge students to reduce energy consumption. Dining Services has purchased vending misers that shut down lighting and alter temperature settings on all campus vending machines when no one is around. The move is expected to result in average annual electricity savings of anywhere from 35 to 50 per cent, or some $22,000 a year.
While the university’s respondents were less satisfied with the quality of teaching assistants when compared with other institutions, the level of satisfaction at Carleton has been rising since 2006.
In response to feedback from students, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research implemented a TA Mentorship Program in 2007 that allows close to 80 percent of TAs, including international teaching assistants, to have access to a discipline-specific mentor who provides them with one-on-one advice, teaching skills workshops, individual classroom technique evaluation and resources on WebCT.
While Carleton is pleased with the positive nature of the CUSC results, the university is committed to continuing to provide students with a great experience. To that end, a Service Excellence Working Group was formed in August 2009.
The Canadian University Consortium is a group of Canadian universities working cooperatively to gain a better understanding of the undergraduate student population. Carleton has participated in the CUSC survey for the past 12 years. It is one of several tools Carleton uses to ensure that students are satisfied with their university experience.
A summary of the 2009 results is available at: www.carleton.ca/oirp/surveys.