Reactions and Insights to Survey Results

We recently completed surveys of students (classroom based and online) and faculty. The responses were good and the data are rich. I am opening this data up for review and comment by faculty and administration. The survey data are in Survey Monkey format, which is easy to read and sort for further analysis. Try to take some time to look through the data and post any insights you might have. Here are the links:


At 5/04/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Courses I need are offered at the times that are convenient to my schedule. 29% said "No"
This question has the highest percentage of "No" of any in the survey. I have been concerned that our schedules are not scientifically created. e.g. When I was a student (and trudged a mile through the snow to get to class, etc) it seemed like the class meeting times very consistent. e.g. They all were TTh 10-noon or MWF 8-9 etc., but here it seems that any start time is valid. The problem with that is class overlaps that prevent students from taking many classes. Perhaps we should adopt suggested guidelines that partition the day into chunks that don't overlap so much? (I know easier said than done, but it could be a goal). Perhaps some software could do an analysis of each schedule and point out overlapping classes so we could make incremental adjustments in our planning? -Dave Topham

At 5/05/2007, Blogger Jim Wright said...

The structure of our schedule and its relationship to the needs of students presents and interesting set of issues. The current schedule has evolved over the past 40 years based on three major factors: 1) when students want to attend; 1) when faculty want to teach; and 3) when classrooms are available, especially specialty lab rooms. Thus, the current schedule is an amalgam of these three factors. Because of the large number of sections that are now offered, our scheduling process involves “rolling over” the schedule from the previous similar semester (e.g. Spring 06 rolled over to Spring 07) and then tweaking within that to meet needs of students, desires of faculty, and availability of rooms that may have changed from the previous similar semester.

Now, this is not a totally ineffective approach. First, it is much more efficient than starting from scratch in a “zero-based” scheduling approach. Second, general student demand has been built in to the schedule over time. The reason most of our sections are offered Monday-Thursday between 9 and 2 is because that is when most students want their classes. Numerous failed attempts to schedule more late afternoon classes have proven the point. Third, the use of rooms seems to work and the idea of redoing that from scratch seems too daunting and time consuming. We know that there is scheduling software that could help us with this, but it would be an added expense and require significant change in our processes, so it usually ends up being put off and something that would be good to do sometime in the future!

Because of the apparent student demand for classes in the Monday-Thursday between 9 and 2 block, the campus is pretty jammed during these times limiting the number of sections to be added. This leads to some students not being able to get classes during these times as courses fill, particularly if the student tries to register at the last minute. This will be ameliorated somewhat over time as the Newark Center and new Student Services Center open leaving more space available on the Fremont Campus.

Speaking of the Newark Campus, we are now building the Spring 2008 schedule, the first ever to be offered. So we are starting from scratch there. The approach is to build the schedule around patterns of classes, especially in the day, that facilitate full time attendance. We are looking at common patterns of courses full time students will need based on their assessment scores and educational goals. This might produce an approach to scheduling that could be replicated for the Fremont Campus, particularly as more space opens here.

Another factor to consider in all of this is our growing online college, which is not time-space dependent. Online enrollments have been growing steadily over the past three years, now approaching 10% of our total enrollment. Check this out:

Sections FTES
Fall 04 42 106
Spring 05 52 162
Fall 05 68 176
Spring 06 85 212
Fall 06 114 276
Spring 07 131 331
Fall 07 130

Summer 05 24 88
Summer 06 47 123
Summer 07 58

All this said (sorry), we should look more closely at our schedule to see how we might restructure as possible to meet student demand. This should be facilitated by the additional space we will have within the next two years.

At 5/17/2007, Blogger Alison Kuehner said...

Since I teach some courses online and am a member of the Distance Education committee, I was particularly interested in comparing the data from the two surveys to see how students rated their educational experiences in both venues. Given that there were some similar questions asked to in-person and online students, it was interesting to consider how student responses compared.

Here are my (admittedly unscientific) findings:

Overall, students were quite positive about their education at Ohlone—whether this occurs in a traditional classroom setting or online. For instance, a positive answer (“strong yes” or “yes”) was given by 83% of online students and 78% of traditional students when asked if they felt the quality of instruction is excellent at Ohlone. Moreover 86% of online students and 88% of traditional students responded “yes” or “strong yes” when asked if courses at Ohlone are preparing them for their career and educational goals. Teachers also rated highly, with 79% of online students giving their online teachers a thumbs up for being “highly skilled” and coming to class prepared, in contrast to 88% of instructors as rated highly skilled and prepared by in-person students. (Interestingly, the negative replies were similar for both sets of students with 9% of online students vs. 8% of traditional students responding “no” or “strong no”—a significant number, 12%, of online students had “no opinion”).

While online teachers don’t rate as highly for preparation and skill, they do rate (slightly) higher when it comes to being fair in their grading process (89% online vs. 84% in-person), being responsive to individual student’s needs (79% online vs. 70% in-person), and encouraging students to actively participate in class (82% online vs. 78% in-person).

The one area where in-person classes were rated more highly than online classes was in the variety of courses to meet student needs and interests: 87% of traditional students said “yes” or “strong yes” while 76% of online students said the same.

Now, I’m not sure how representative the sample size of students is for each group, but with 1,1160 traditional students responding to the survey and 466 online students responding this seems like a fairly high percentage.

I found it gratifying to read these survey results—it seems there are excellent teachers and courses being offered at Ohlone College both in-person and online. Makes me glad to be a faculty member at Ohlone!

At 6/21/2007, Blogger Yvette said...

The surveys were amazingly revealing. I found it helpful that Alison drew comparisons between the on-campus vs the online responses. Yes, students in both categories expressed very high satisfaction rates. Like Alison, I also found this gratifying.
90% of on-campus students considered the library to be crucial to their education - that dispells the implications that the computer era has diminished to role of the library.
A bit disturbing was the statistic that nearly 50% had some doubts (no, maybe, not sure) if the online class was as in-depth as a class on campus. I think the day is coming when employers/transfer institutions demand to know if the applicant's classes were online or on-campus. I still worry that the online student may be denied opportunities/job offers that are granted to a traditional graduate.
Notice that the students gave Ohlone very strong marks in
* equity and diversity
This is a major success! since diversity is Goal #1 in our Strategic Plan.


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