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Web-based service aids in assessment

A Web-based service developed by a Binghamton alumnus has made it easier than ever before to conduct student surveys.

Student Voice, a Buffalo-based company co-founded in 1999 by Michael Weisman ’98, helps campuses develop and manage student assessment efforts. About 250 colleges and universities, including Duke University, the University of Michigan and Vassar College, have used the firm’s services.

Chris Knickerbocker, director of the Center for Quality at Binghamton, serves as the main campus contact with the firm. Binghamton pays nearly $18,000 a year for the service, which she considers a good deal.

Student Voice can create surveys or administer ones developed by others, make sure they’re viable and statistically relevant and provide instant results online.

Survey participants can use any computer with a Web browser or, in some cases, use specially provided PDAs. The service works equally well for surveying small and large groups.

Knickerbocker noted a simple online request is all that’s required to get started. Student Voice then follows up by phone and ensures a quick turnaround time for the survey to be posted. Users can also browse through previously compiled surveys by topic and adapt them for their own use.

Knickerbocker is pleased to see campus departments such as the Career Development Center (CDC) using the service already. “People are getting data to make decisions,” she said. “We’re really pleased that assessment is becoming so popular.”

Dozens of surveys have been conducted on campus since the service became available in October 2005. Response rates as high as 50 percent, which is considered phenomenal, are not uncommon.

Recent surveys have focused on topics such as experiential learning, summer orientation, spring break and sexual assault. Some go through the human subjects review board for approval.

Student Voice can also be used to poll faculty, staff, parents or even employers who have done recruiting on campus.

Pat Wrobel, career consultant for the CDC, is a big fan of Student Voice. The CDC has used the service since January to seek opinions about its programs and about topics ranging from summer internships to what seniors planned to do regarding work and graduate school.

Wrobel said Student Voice allows the CDC to view aggregated data, not just for a specific session but even by topic. A CDC staff member could review all the feedback from several resumé workshops, for instance.

“You can get a sense of the big picture,” she said. “That’s a nice feature.”

She hopes to see the CDC modify its programs and services in response to the survey results in the future. “It should be driving us to make changes and be responsive to our audience,” Wrobel said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08