CRITERION III: Accomplishments
Student services effectively support the institution's purposes
As Robert J. Menges and Maryellen Weimer (Teaching
on Solid Ground: Using Scholarship to Improve Practice, San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, 1996) observed, "better undergraduate education begins with
a more complete and informed understanding of students and learning" (p.
13) and "what happens to students in classrooms relates to their lives
outside of the classroom . . . any given experience is part of a web of
experiences that ultimately affect individual students" (p. 18). This
larger perspective for understanding students and their learning experiences
at UNI is reflected in the emerging close working relationships between
Academic Affairs and Educational and Student Services. Well-grounded and
executed studies provide insightful and useful information about the expectations,
preparation, experiences, satisfaction, problems, and achievements of
our students. Such scholarly inquiry is essential for the mutual understanding
and informed, coordinated action of personnel in both academic affairs
and student services. Our focus here is limited to one central question:
What evidence indicates that student services support the educational
purposes of UNI? An array of studies and surveys that respond to this
question are described.
A review of retention rates, persistence data, enrollment data, our ACT
freshmen profile, and the high school rank and ACT scores of entering
freshmen provide evidence that the educational services afforded to undergraduate
students are effective and commensurate with the abilities and expectations
of students who are admitted to the University. This conclusion is also
supported by a comparison of ACT scores, retention, persistence, and graduation
(Additional information is avavilable in the NCA Report Appendix. Print
copies are available for review at UNI's Rod Library).
The University seeks to improve its services to students in a variety
of ways. Student services are evaluated and improved using formal techniques
that include institutional surveys, standardized instruments, outside
consultants and focus groups. Examples of these include:
1. Enrollment Management Study, sponsored by the
President and the Vice President for Educational and Student Services
and conducted by Williams-Crockett and the Noel-Levitz Center for Enrollment
Management in 1993. An Executive Enrollment Potential Analysis was conducted
to provide feedback regarding our current approach to marketing, recruiting,
and retention as well as to provide recommendations for short-term actions
that would enhance enrollment. As a result, computer automation was increased;
staff training and development were provided for professional admissions
counselors; promotional strategies were developed for target student groups;
the inquiry pool was developed; a comprehensive enrollment plan was developed;
an analysis of financial aid effectiveness was conducted; and assistance
was provided in building an enrollment management database needed to support
enrollment planning and decision-making.
2. Student Wellness Recreation Center Study, sponsored
by student government and the Office of the Vice President for Educational
and Student Services. This initiative solicited student opinion and concerns
and resulted in the development of a concept paper used by the architects
in designing the Wellness Recreation Center.
3. Student Involvement Survey, under the sponsorship
of the Office of the Vice President for Educational and Student Services.
This survey was conducted to gain a better understanding of how students
spend their time outside the classroom Ü in employment, student activities,
and academic endeavors. A major outcome of the study was expanded weekend
programming funded by student fees. The study also provided insight into
the role of employment both on and off campus in student success.
4. Student Alumni Survey, sponsored by the Office
of Placement and Career Services, the Office of the President, the Center
for the Enhancement of Teaching, and the Center for Social and Behavioral
Research and conducted by the Center for Social and Behavioral Research.
The purpose of this periodically administered survey is to examine the
relationship of undergraduate education with work and other post-graduation
life experiences. Information is gathered about the reasons for selecting
UNI and a major, satisfaction with UNI and a major, student experiences,
the purposes of an undergraduate education, qualities (skills, knowledge,
and values), the job search process, first and current work positions
of graduates, interests and needs for continuing education, and interest
in participation in UNI activities. Findings from this survey have been
used as evidence of the need for the University's Experiential Learning
Program and other Placement initiatives. The data have also been used
to examine student knowledge and opinion regarding the University's General
5. Student Health Clinic Evaluation, sponsored by
University Health Services and conducted by a team of outside medical
consultants from Allen Memorial Hospital, Waterloo. The purpose of the
study was to conduct an overall review of the operations of the Student
Health Clinic. This study resulted in recommendations affecting women's
health care, supervision of the medical staff, implementation of a Continuous
Quality Improvement (CQI) program, and accreditation of the clinic.
6. University Food Services Study, co-sponsored
by the Maucker Union and the Department of Residence, and conducted by
Ricca Planning Studios. The purpose of this study was to assess customer
satisfaction, needs and preferences for food services on the campus, evaluate
equipment and facilities for support of future services, and to determine
the most efficient and effective use of campus resources. The findings
of the study prompted a redesign of the food services of the campus: Residence
Dining will have exclusive food service responsibilities in the Union
and for other operations on campus, as well as in residence dining centers.
Additionally, extensive facility modifications are planned for residence
dining centers and the union in order to respond to customer and market
7. Residence System Annual Satisfaction Study, sponsored
by the Department of Residence and conducted using a benchmarking firm's
survey (Educational Benchmarking Information). The purpose is to assess
residents' satisfaction with the on-campus living and dining experience,
to learn of areas of strengths and weaknesses, to use the information
to build on strengths and address weaknesses, and to use the data to monitor
satisfaction in relation to peer departments on other selected campuses.
The results of the assessments have contributed to: provision of weekend
custodial services, residence hall substance-free houses, smoke-free environments,
staff training and development modifications to achieve results in areas
of weakness, expanded housing options, and food service enhancements.
8. Student Use, Satisfaction, and Climate Surveys,
sponsored and conducted by the Office of Information Management and Analysis
(Institutional Research). Numerous and ongoing studies about student use
of and satisfaction with various student services are conducted annually
and reported by the IMA office. These studies are widely distributed and
considered by institutional officials in program delivery modification
The net result of these efforts is that programs and services are developed
or modified on the basis of expressed student needs as well as the expertise
of outside consultants with knowledge of best practices.
In 1996, the Division of Educational and Student Services established
a standing Student Research Committee. The committee's charge is to "conduct
assessments to facilitate the improvement of divisional programs and services
which impact students." To date the committee has sponsored two studies:
1. College Student Experience Questionnaire: Administered
twice by the ESS Research Committee (Spring 1999 and Spring 2000), the
CSEQ is helping us establish baseline and trend data of student self-reported
learning experiences and outcomes associated with a liberal education.
2. Study of Withdrawing/Non-returning Students:
The purpose for this study was to gather feedback regarding why some students
do not continue at the University of Northern Iowa.
Establishment of a standing ESS Research Committee reflected a desire
to move beyond assessment of programs and services to consider questions
of institutional climate and educational impact. A further step was taken
in 2000 with the employment of Stamats Communications to look at student
service delivery across the institution, including financial, academic,
and administrative student services.
At the graduate level, an Associate Dean for Student Services (Graduate
College) serves as the academic adviser for all non-degree students. This
individual is also responsible for articulating, monitoring, and implementing
(on behalf of the Dean of the Graduate College) graduate academic policies
and procedures related to admission, academic progress, the development
and implementation of individual student academic programs, graduate student
academic grievances, and the orientation of new graduate assistants.
In conclusion, changes in student services over the past ten years have been incremental, deliberate, and increasingly based on formal methods of assessment and knowledge of best practices. What is judged as appropriate or educationally purposeful depends ultimately on clearly defined and broadly accepted learning outcomes for students. Over the past ten years, our expected learning outcomes have been expressed specifically (e.g., learning that results from experiential education) and more broadly (e.g., as the knowledge, skills, and values expected of an educated person). Effectiveness in student services is realized when students achieve these expected educational outcomes.
Last Modified: 02/14/01