U of T has resumed its sixth National Survey of Student Engagement for first-year and senior-year students across all three campuses, asking students for feedback on their interaction with their faculty members and their colleagues, as well as how they handle exams and assignments.

David Newman, U of T’s senior director of student experience and the interim director of the Centre for Community Partnerships, told The Medium that in past years, the university usually received a 35 to 40 percent response rate, which he stated was considered “quite high.”

According to Newman, the questions on the survey are the same as those on the last survey held in 2014.

He stated that the results of the survey are used at both the divisional faculties’ level and the institutional level, helping them to make changes toward more student engagement.

“We use it in a lot of ways,” said Newman. “It’s used institution-wide to help us better understand where things are going well around the student experience and where things need to be improved.”

He added that the faculty divisions also use the survey results to look at their curriculums in terms of what they offer, what could be added to result in more engagement, and how to increase the level of interaction between students and faculty members.

“We’ve seen some faculties change their expectations and resources for faculty members to support them. We certainly, on the student side, develop new programs constantly as a result of the [survey] results,” he said.

He added that the faculties particularly focus on “high-intact” educational practices, which are presented as questions in the survey and address the experiential opportunities available in the higher educational level.

“There’s been a lot of work in each of the divisions and centrally at all three campuses to try and build opportunities for students to have experiential opportunities, so that we can reflect the high-intact practices,” explained Newman.

“We know from the data and the data has shown us that those who do high-intact practices are more likely to have better experiences at the university.”

Confidentiality of student responses are maintained by directing the survey after students sign up to a secure server at NSSE, which keeps the information provided by students anonymous. Upon completion of the survey, it goes back to the original secure server by the university, informing it that the survey has been finished.

Students who complete the survey are given a 20 percent discount code at the Royal Ontario Museum and will be entered to a draw for one of several prizes, including an iPad worth $500; 5 X $100 Presto cards; 5 X $50 bookstore gift cards; 5 X $50 T-Cards; and 10 X $10 Starbucks cards. According to the email sent to students, the odds of winning a prize are one in 370.

Newman conceded that once the data is redirected back to the university’s server, it enters the students for the draw and sends them the distinct discount code for the ROM.

According to the NSSE Survey website, the survey is conducted in partnership between U of T and the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.

A reminder will be sent out to students by the end of March, and the survey is expected to remain open until June 1.

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