They’ve earned credits and graduated their programs, now they’re ready to take their knowledge into the field. Alumni are not only the best testimonial for your school or program, their insights can improve your existing students’ experience as well as future program coursework and outcomes. In addition to program improvement, alumni data can play an important role in compliance as accrediting bodies may request it to evaluate schools and programs.
We talked with Lindsey Schroeder, Clinical Education Coordinator for the Master’s of Science in Athletic Training Program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who utilizes alumni survey data to inform current programs as well as improve programs and curriculum for future students. Knowing what was integral in helping a student achieve competency in a subject can directly impact how Schroeder approaches the coursework for any given subject matter. Knowing things like whether students passed their boards, secured employment, or their current clinical setting is all information that can not only benefit Schroeder, but her program and institution as well.
At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, surveys are sent to alumni about two weeks after graduation; early enough that the information and feedback is fresh in their minds, but far enough out that the alumnus has had time to decompress after rigorous coursework.
Below are insights from Schroeder on how to begin the alumni survey process, some sample questions you could include, as well as how eValue can help in the alumni survey process overall.
To get started:
Identify stakeholders in the survey process
Prior to drafting questions for the alumni survey, identify the key stakeholders involved in the alumni survey process. A good way to go about this is by first asking questions like, ‘who will benefit from the information gathered within this survey?’ and ‘does this stakeholder represent collective feedback of a program or group, or does this stakeholder represent individual feedback only?’ While neither answer is technically incorrect, the more collective feedback you can gather the more meaningful the data will be and to a broader array of people. Examples of stakeholders could be program administrators, education coordinators, instructors, program directors, and more.
Start with the end in mind
As critical as the overall alumni survey process is, the questions within the survey itself are equally important. Before you begin drafting the questions for the survey, work with your stakeholders to determine the story you want the survey to tell.
Here are some questions you could use to kick off the survey question process:
- What outcomes are you hoping the survey will highlight?
- What would be beneficial to know as you improve programs and curriculum year-over-year?
- What data could alumni provide that could benefit incoming students in their coursework?
While you and your program stakeholders likely know the best content for questions in your alumni survey, below are several sample questions you could include in your survey.
Select one from the list below to indicate your current employment status:
- Employed in degree field or area of study
- NOT Employed in degree field or area of study
- Not employed
- Not employed due to enrollment in another degree program
- Not employed due to military service
Using a scale from 1(poor) to 5 (very well) rate how well your educational experience at [school name] prepare you for:
- Functioning in the workplace
- First job in degree field or area of study
Using a scale from 1 (not at all satisfied) to 5 (extremely satisfied) rate your satisfaction with:
- Career advising
- Course advising
- Administration of the program
- Course instruction
- Clinical education experience
Using a scale from 1(poor) to 5 (very well) rate:
How well did your educational program prepare you for [exam name]?
Choose Yes or No:
Have you passed the [exam name]?
Choose 1-4 or select ‘more than 4’:
How many attempts were required to pass the [exam name]?
Choose Yes or No:
Would you recommend this educational program to future students?
A few other tips as you construct your survey:
- Determine which fields and questions are mandatory
- Include a free-form text box at the end of the survey for alumni to provide any additional feedback they might have. The survey questions might not have captured all the alumnus has to say and a free-form text box allows them to expand upon any pressing thoughts or feedback.
How eValue can help
The great news about alumni surveys is that you can use eValue to conduct the survey as well as aggregate and analyze the data. In fact, many programs using eValue are taking a similar approach for their clinical evaluations. While SurveyMonkey and other online survey tools offer up a platform with which to take the surveys, eValue offers outcomes tagging within its platform, tied to much of the data you already collect and rely on day-to-day. Outcomes tagging allows you to tag responses from your alumni surveys, and provide aggregate data by question, group, or individual. Having the data already within eValue gives a truly holistic view of student feedback, which empowers you to make more informed decisions.
Alumni surveys and the data they provide can be a clear indicator of the mastery or opportunities to improve programs as well as curriculum. eValue’s outcomes tagging feature can make data collection from these surveys efficient and seamless.
Ready to see how your program can benefit from conducting alumni surveys?