The annual Continuous Improvement Survey made its way through the halls of Fisher this past spring and the promising results have recently been released.
The survey essentially serves as an SEI for the college, as it is made available to all 6,728 Fisher undergraduate students and covers a broad range of topics including academic and peer advising, facilities and career services, and all aspects of the academic experience.
The circulator of the survey, Associate Dean Pat West, has coordinated it since its inception three years ago. With additional input from the Undergraduate Business Council (UBC), the survey has evolved to encompass deeper student insight on the highlights and challenges within Fisher.
“Dean West and I were talking about the possibility of SEI’s being more public so students could see how others rated professors they would potentially have,” says Jack Renner, finance major and former UBC president. “After hitting many roadblocks West got the idea to give us the continuous improvement survey.”
Renner and UBC met with West biweekly to break down the survey and identify problem areas in Fisher. UBC also conducted focus groups with students in certain Fisher courses and met with course coordinators to communicate issues while brainstorming tangible ideas.
“We don’t get student input in a broad sense like this in any other way,” West says. “We consistently use its results to find challenges that we can address that wouldn’t be identified in faculty meetings.”
One of the larger changes that was instigated from the survey in previous years came from the business core satisfaction results. Students were asked how satisfied they were with the quality of teaching in each class, and the results were organized by the year in which the class was offered. West says the college looks for at least 80 percent of respondents to indicate a satisfied or very satisfied rating.
In 2014, only 53.4 and 53.1 percent of students who took Accounting 2200 and Accounting 2300, respectively, reported satisfied/very satisfied – the lowest satisfaction rates among the business core classes. The following year, the administration made faculty and curriculum changes, including the elimination of lab assignments to both courses, and the the rates increased to 79.8 and 87.9 percent, respectively. The satisfaction rate increases were the two largest in the history of the continuous improvements survey.
“The responses we were getting from students told us something needed to be done. We were seeing students fleeing OSU for Columbus State’s accounting courses in droves, which cost the college financially and students doing this were not performing well upon their return,” West says.
This year, the courses with lower satisfaction marks that will be addressed include Business Analytics 2321 (67.2 percent), Decision Sciences 2320 (58.5 percent) and International Business 2000 (43.1 percent). According to West, Business Analytics and Decision sciences will be completely restructured for this upcoming fall. West also noted that while the Academic Advising Team scored well despite being understaffed, going forward students and staff may encounter increased turmoil.
“Our advising team is understaffed, especially during periods when students are registering for courses,” West says. “This makes it difficult for students to gain access to advising. If we were able to add one additional advisor to the team it would improve the availability of academic advising for our students.”
In addition to the survey for current students, West sent a similar survey to 5,659 alumni who graduated from Fisher with a BSBA in the last four years. alumni gave Fisher high marks in the expected BusinessWeek questions, with 98.5 percent of reporting they would encourage others to pursue a degree from Fisher and 97.2 percent reporting they consider their Fisher degree to have been a worthwhile investment of their time and money.
The alumni survey response rate was low with 367 total respondents, which could be indicative of a larger issue of alumni engagement. Alumni reported that Fisher’s Alumni network was unhelpful, which West says suggests an important need to engage Fisher alumni with current students.
West also added metrics to record which skills alumni find important in their careers and how prepared they felt in those areas by the time they walked across the stage. On a scale of 1-5, with 1 as not important/prepared and 5 as extremely important/prepared, alumni feel the most important skill is “Conduct yourself with integrity” with a 4.63 average, which coincidentally received the highest score for preparation at time of graduation with a 4.38 average. The gap analysis indicated that alumni felt appropriately prepared for the overwhelming majority of the skills that received the highest average importance.
“It’s certainly a great sign that alumni are feeling that Fisher is in tune with the skills needed to compete in the job market today,” West says. “We have areas to improve, but we are very satisfied with the results we are seeing from current and former students.”
The next Continuous Improvement Survey will be released in March of 2016, the next alumni survey will be in three years, and highlights from the survey are available on the Fisher Career Data Center’s website.