5 Tips To Improve Student Satisfaction In Higher Education

January 12, 2023 Watermark Insights

Improving student satisfaction can benefit your institution immensely. When your students feel satisfied with their experience and education, they're more likely to remain engaged in the curriculum, finish their programs, and reach graduation.

High levels of student satisfaction can help you reach campus initiatives and drive change at your institution. If you're facing low student satisfaction, your institution could use a boost, and Watermark has you covered. Here are five tips that discuss how to improve student satisfaction in college and university institutions. 

5 Tips for Improving Student Satisfaction in Higher Education Micrographic

What Is Student Satisfaction and Why Is It Important?

Student satisfaction depicts student feelings and attitudes toward their higher education institution and education. Students use the experience on campus and the service, programs, facilities, and resources they can access to determine the value they're receiving from their college or university. If we break these factors down even more, they would consist of characteristics like: 

  • A professor's teaching ability
  • Campus security 
  • Quality of facilities 
  • Technology implementation
  • Suitable financial aid
  • Instructional effectiveness
  • University status
  • Student growth and development 
  • Academic advising 

Why Should You Care About Student Satisfaction? 

Student satisfaction is a huge part of the learning process. Your students pay lots of money to receive a high-quality education, and they deserve to feel like that money is going to good use. In this case, "high-quality education" encompasses more than just the knowledge that will drive them toward their future career — it's everything your institution offers. 

When students like the food your dining facilities provide and take advantage of campus resources, they're much more likely to be in high spirits and maintain more stable mental health. Decreased academic satisfaction has been linked to a simultaneous decrease in psychological health, leading students to develop high stress, anxiety, and depression. Students who enjoy the college experience will feel a sense of pride and achievement in their education and have more motivation. 

Students who spend lots of time on campus, have adequate financial support for loans, and are pleased with their professors are more likely to feel good about their school choice. This satisfaction will likely lead them to continue their studies, graduate, and recommend your institution to people they know — subsequently increasing your retention rates and enrollment numbers. Satisfied graduates may also return for future alumni events and be more likely to support your institution financially. 

No matter how prestigious your institution is, poor student satisfaction reports will negatively impact how the outside world views your school's character, effectiveness, and value. Student satisfaction ratings are regularly used as higher education performance indicators, reflecting the quality of your holistic education experience. When these ratings go down, students are more likely to transfer to another institution, drop out, or avoid your college altogether, making it challenging to reach campus initiatives and set new goals. 

Measuring Student Satisfaction in College and University

Before taking steps to foster student satisfaction, you must understand how to gauge current levels of satisfaction and which areas need improvement. Gathering data can ensure you dedicate the proper resources and time to driving the change your students want to see on campus. 

Measuring Student Satisfaction in College and University

You can also measure student satisfaction by:

  • Comparing successful programs to classes that may need more attention. 
  • Analyzing learner outcomes to understand how students are completing their education. 
  • Allowing students to describe their thoughts in detailed course critiques and surveys
  • Reviewing financial performance to determine where to better allocate resources to support students. 
  • Assessing faculty credentials to identify which areas could use more expertise.

How Can Universities Improve Student Satisfaction?

There are many things higher education institutions can do to improve student satisfaction. Some of these tips may be a matter of adjusting practices you currently have in place, while others may be new steps you can take to boost student responses and engagement. While it's vital to give student satisfaction a boost for your and your students' sakes, you don't want to treat them like paying customers by always giving them exactly what they want instead of what they need for success. Educators should strive to satisfy their needs while providing them with the learning outcomes and resources they require to graduate and enter the workforce. 

Check out these five tips to improve student satisfaction in meaningful ways. 

1. Implement Creative Initiatives 

Many campus initiatives aim to boost student engagement and benefit your campus, but some are more student-directed than others. Putting a focus on student well-being can positively impact their experiences on campus. You can think outside the box to develop new initiatives that stand out to your students and the community. Ideas include:

  • Mentorship programs.
  • Mental health committees.
  • Leadership opportunities.
  • Local meetups.
  • Cyber ethics clubs.
  • Innovative and unique social clubs.

2. Foster Inclusion and Celebrate Diversity

Students venture to your campus from all walks of life, and you must do your best to satisfy all their needs, including ethnically diverse and low-income students who fall in the minority. These students can face debilitating issues like discrimination, hate crimes, and racial harassment on campus, which can significantly impact their academic experiences. 

Focus on deciding what resources and tools your campus has to guide these students to success. Fostering a safe, welcoming, and inclusive institution will benefit every student. You can expect student satisfaction to increase when you reduce harmful actions and boost efforts to deliver student support and foster a sense of well-being and belonging. 

3. Offer and Promote Extra Support Services

Students face many challenges within the bounds of campus and beyond. Offering high-quality support services will help learners attain the assistance they need to succeed academically and in every other facet of life. These resources extend past typical writing and tutoring centers commonly offered at all colleges and include services like: 

  • Mental health services, like a counseling center.
  • Scheduling and course registration center.
  • First-year seminar course.
  • Academic advising to define success pathways.
  • Mentoring program with faculty and students.
  • Career center for resume building and job application assistance.
  • Disability resources and service center.
  • Recreation center for health and fitness.
  • Multicultural student affairs office.
  • Resident assistant programs for students living on campus.

4. Transform the Curriculum

Work alongside students to review and co-develop the curriculum. Use their feedback to tailor courses and ensure every assessment, assignment, and learning module adds value to your student's education. Using student feedback will be vital during this stage, as you will want to make changes that positively influence their experiences. 

Using feedback can help you ensure students have the resources they need to succeed and promote a positive campus culture, leading to improved student engagement that will connect students with their studies and peers. With their surveys and evaluations, you can determine whether to adjust teaching practices, reconsider the number of quizzes and exams throughout the semester, adjust curriculum credits, and so much more. 

5. Ask for Feedback and Apply It

One of the easiest ways to foster student satisfaction is by asking students directly. A college student satisfaction survey gives students a voice and lets them describe the changes they want to see on campus. Gather a complete picture of student engagement and satisfaction by examining qualitative and quantitative data. You can take their thoughts and opinions and turn data into action. 

One-size-fits-all student surveys typically ask only for information such as teacher performance and course content rather than areas to improve. It's crucial to offer open-ended opportunities for students to voice their opinions, such as interviews, focus groups, and unrestricted questionnaires. These platforms will allow students to voice their concerns while you show them you care about their experience and prioritize taking steps to improve it in any way you can. 

Once you have enough data, you can formulate a strategy to target areas of concern to increase student satisfaction rates.

Learn How to Use Student Satisfaction Data From Watermark

Watermark enables higher education institutions to drive change and guide students to success. We empower colleges and higher education institutions to support meaningful data collection, measurement, and review. With Watermark Course Evaluations & Surveys, you can easily distribute assessments and review meaningful student data to drive change at your institution. Working with Watermark Curriculum Strategy, you can transform your courses to meet student needs. 

Improving student satisfaction can be simple with the right tools, like the ones we've crafted at Watermark. Request a demo of our solutions and boost student satisfaction. 

Learn How to Use Student Satisfaction Data From Watermark

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