Internal - Faculty & Staff

Frequently Asked Questions

What is STEP?

The STudent Experience Program is a commitment and approach to more actively and systematically use feedback in the academic and administrative management of the university to improve and enhance the student experience and faculty and staff engagement.  It involves surveying our graduate and undergraduate student populations with questions that include demographics, student satisfaction and emotional attachment to Simmons.  STEP also involves administering an engagement survey to faculty and staff.

Why are we doing this?

The Simmons Board of Trustees has charged the organization to implement a more rigorous form of measuring and tracking the student experience. Our current methods of getting feedback from students vary by College and program.  With more consistent and complete data, we’ll be able to address retention challenges in a more targeted way and provide insights helpful to the faculty, administration,  and helpful to action planning.

Who is leading this initiative?

This is a Board-driven initiative, sponsored by The Office of the President and led by Suzie Murphy, VP of Strategic Initiatives.   Associate Provost and Dean of the Undergraduate Program, Catherine Paden is leading the workstream focused on the UG student segment.  Dean Stephanie Berzin and Program Director Heather Shlosser have been leading the workstream focused on the online graduate student work to date as we started with the online student segments in [email protected] and [email protected] programs, building upon the foundation 2U had helped architect at  launch. Various offices supporting the work have included Institutional Research, Strategic Initiatives, Office of Institutional Advancement, Finance and the Provost’s office.

Who is administering the surveys?

Gallup is administering the surveys via email. Gallup is an internationally recognized expert market research analytic company with one of the most highly regarded higher education vertical in the country.  Gallup uses many measurements and benchmarks, and for our programs is using a measurement called the Net Promoter Score or NPS for short.

Why are we using NPS as a metric?

The Net Promoter Score was developed as a business tool to measure the likelihood of customers recommending products or services. It is a reliable and valid metric for customer satisfaction and engagement that predicts enthusiastic use of the company’s products or services.

Do other higher ed institutions use this tool?

Yes. Higher education institutions are increasingly relying on student experience metrics to guide strategy.

How useful is NPS in HE as it does not measure student outcomes?

NPS has been used mostly outside of higher education but there is good reason to believe that it is just as valid within the higher education sector. Extensive Gallup survey research shows that alumni who are more satisfied and engaged were more likely to have graduated on time and were more likely to donate to their alma matter. Across institutions, schools with higher recommendation scores from their alumni consistently have higher retention and graduation rates.

Gallup’s research for Simmons’ online graduate programs showed that the NPS question predicted significantly higher probabilities of retention across students, even controlling for their demographic characteristics.

Is the data confidential?

Yes, the data is confidential.

Who will see the data?

There are several reports that will be generated from the surveys.  The Board will receive an executive dashboard report at every Board meeting with trends in NPS and drivers of NPS.  Deans from each College will receive a separate and more granular report containing individual course and faculty data.  The President, Provost and Deans only will have access to this data. The data will be managed by a “data custodian” and governed by a policy pertaining to access to the data and additional analysis.

How will this data be used?

This data will be used to inform unique retention initiatives across student segments.

What other measures is Simmons collecting to highlight the student experience?

The end of term surveys currently include various measures of student engagement including emotional attachment to Simmons, the quality of their relationships with their professors and fellow students, and questions designed to identify whether they are at risk of leaving the program before completing their degree.

Why are we using NPS over one of these other metrics?

Gallup will be performing a detailed analysis of all the survey items that are being collected and their relationship to retention. The focus has been on NPS (and will likely remain on NPS) because it has been validated across many industries and thus has performance benchmarks against which Simmons can compare itself.

What kinds of questions feed the NPS score?

NPS scores are based on the following question: “How likely would you be to recommend [Simmons University] to friends or family?”

What is “emotional attachment” measuring?

Emotional attachment is measuring the level of enthusiasm and engagement that students feel towards Simmons, its faculty, and their fellow students.

What is “satisfaction” measuring?

Satisfaction is measuring how well Simmons University is meeting the expectations of those who are paying to attend the university.