Monday, May 14, 2001

UC classes get high marks

Parking scores low on student survey

By Ben L. Kaufman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Faculty and classes at the University of Cincinnati came out on top in the school's first comprehensive student satisfaction survey.

        “It is a wonderful revelation,” UC Vice President Mitchel Livingston said last week.

  When 2,311 questionnaires from 17 University of Cincinnati colleges on five campuses were tallied, these were the highlights (on a scale of 1 to 5):
  • Classes 3.9
  • Faculty 3.8
  • Instructional support* 3.8
  • Registration 3.5
  • Teaching assistants 3.4
  • Financial aid 3.3
  • Advising 3.2
  • Facilities 3.2
  • Campus services 3.2
  • Billing 3.2
  • Residential life 2.9
  • Parking 2.5
  *Textbook and computer availability, library hours, tutoring, etc.
        On a scale of 1 to 5 — with 1 being very dissatisfied and 5 meaning very satisfied — students across UC's 17 undergraduate and graduate colleges gave classes a 3.9, faculty a 3.8.

        Scores were highest on the medical campus (4.3 and 4.0) and Raymond Walters (4.1 and 4.1) and Clermont colleges (4.0 and 4.2).

        On the main campus, where most students at tend class, classes ranked 3.8 and faculty 3.7.

        Other Tristate colleges, including Xavier University, survey students on school satisfaction but not to the extent that UC has.

        “It's very impressive,” said Susan Marrs, director of college counseling and principal of the Seven Hills Upper School in Madisonville.

        Such enthusiasm for faculty and classes wouldn't go unnoticed by counselors, added Mark Cannon, deputy executive director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Alexandria, Va.

        Another pleasant surprise for UC was students' sense of safety on the main and medical campuses, said Lawrence J. Johnson, dean of the College of Education, who helped create the survey.

        UC is “really trying hard to become a university that is receptive to the students we serve,” Mr. Johnson said, “and if you're going to do that, you have to figure out what they like and don't like.”

        Parking, residence halls and the student financial aid office received low ratings.

        “Many of the areas that students are not satisfied with are areas that have been targeted for improvement,” the report said.

        For instance, parking rated 2.5 overall but only 2.3 on the Clifton Avenue campus.

        A score of 2 meant students were dissatisfied.

        UC sought opinions during spring quarter of 2000, and the past year has been spent compiling and analyzing the data. The report was released recently to senior administrators.

        The final report drew on 2,311 completed and validated questionnaires.

        “(We) wanted to take a good hard look at ourselves,” said Brenda LeMaster, the vice provost who oversaw the survey.

        Usable questionnaires came from 7.92 percent of the 29,192 undergraduate and graduate students.

        Mr. Johnson said a 5 percent return would have produced a representative sample.

        Earlier this week, Sara Polling, 19, laughed and said UC was lucky to have taken the poll before disrupting the main campus with demolition and construction that could take another three years to complete.

        The sophomore from Delhi Township said she thoughtthe campus is “pretty safe” but parking “stinks.”

        About teachers and classes, she said, “You've got your bads and your goods.”

        UC's Evaluation Services Center did the survey as part of a larger effort to recruit and retain more students and to promote their success while on campus.

        The survey reflects high-level concern over growing competition, rising costs and faltering enrollment.

        Despite large freshman classes, UC's overall enrollment has declined at least 1,000 students in the past year. Heaviest losses come between freshman and sophomore years.

        Although it was designed to appraise “the UC way of doing things,” such studies are increasingly used on other campuses, Ms. LeMaster said.

        “There weren't many surprises but we didn't have the data. All we had were anecdotes. Now we have the data,” she said.


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