Students give Heartland high marks on satisfaction survey

December 15, 2015
Students enjoying the Hawk's Nest, Heartland's student recreation room on the Normal campus.

When it comes to student satisfaction, Heartland Community College ranks above the national average. That’s according to the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), a national survey that asks higher education students to rate the level of importance and satisfaction on various aspects of their school. Results are compared against all students who complete the survey at institutions across the country. The results also give administrators data over time to see their school’s improvements and identify challenges.

Heartland offers the SSI every three years. Nearly 500 undergraduate students took the survey in spring 2015. When Heartland received the outcomes this fall semester, they were encouraged with the results, which showed improvements from already high levels of satisfaction in earlier years. “It’s quite evident students are pleased with instruction, services and the campus environment,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs, Rick Pearce.

The SSI includes 95 questions and identifies strengths and challenges of the institution. Strengths indicate something is both important to students and that they are satisfied. Challenges are revealed when students find something to be important but have a lower level of satisfaction. Top strengths for Heartland include campus safety, knowledgeable faculty, a helpful website and a variety of course offerings.

Especially encouraging was that even Heartland’s challenges showed high satisfaction. The biggest challenge still had an 84 percent satisfaction rate. “There’s always room for improvement,” said Pearce. “But our strengths were very strong and our challenges were still strong. There was nothing students were really dissatisfied with.”

In addition to ranking items on a scale, several participants noted their satisfaction in an open comments section, with most highlighting their overall positive experience at Heartland. “HCC was an excellent choice for me,” said one student. “All my instructors and the staff have been a great help in my life.”

“I’m having wonderful learning experiences and I look forward to many more,” said another student. “I would recommend Heartland to anyone.”

Dan Hagberg, executive director of institutional research at Heartland, says the SSI is an opportunity to celebrate the college’s success and address challenges. “Regardless of strengths or challenges, it’s important to know what students consider to be important about their college experience so we can meet their needs,” he noted.

Heartland plans to utilize the results to continue improving the student experience. Outcomes from past surveys informed several student engagement initiatives such as a student recreation room. In addition to the SSI, the college also administers other third party satisfaction benchmarks on a non-overlapping, three-year rotation.

Written by: Becky Gropp