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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

McMaster Students Union STUDENT EXPERIENCE SURVEY Overview 2012- 2013 From the University Affairs Committee

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

INTRODUCTION The University Affairs Committee launched a Student Experience Survey on March 15, 2013. The survey remained open until March 31, 2013. The survey seeks to identify the needs of students on campus to ensure that the McMaster Students Union (MSU) is informed of such needs and able to advocate on their behalves. The survey is divided into sections including, Background, Safety, Student Opportunity, Student Health, Financial Aid and Campus. These sections similarly mirror the sections of the Quality of Education Assessment Report (found here: www.msumcmaster.ca/ QEA) to provide the MSU with supplementary responses. The survey seeks to gather both quantitative and qualitative data, with a particular focus on the latter. The survey was disseminated on the MSU website and promoted via MSU and personal representative social media pages. A total of 419 students participated in the survey. From this number a diverse range of feedback was accumulated as well as recommendations for the MSU for future years. This information will be of particular use to the MSU in the coming year. While the MSU tends to conduct numerous survey始s, I want to stress the importance of conducting qualitative surveys. Student feedback and opinion carry significant weight in the organization and it is important to provide students with a forum to discuss their concerns. The intention is for this document to serve as an overview of the results. I recommend that the incoming commissioner work more closely with the data. The survey results will be useful to future leaders when developing their goals for the coming year. Sincerely,

Lisa Bifano University Affairs Commissioner

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

BACKGROUND Question #1: What year of study are you enrolled in? Of the 315 respondents, 20% were in first year, 30% in second, 26% in third, 21% in fourth, 3% fifth.

Question #2: Which Faculty are you in enrolled in? Of the total respondents, 9% were in Arts & Science, 6% in Commerce, 6% in Engineering, 26% in Humanities, 5% in Health Science, 3% in Kinesiology, 2% in Nursing, 20% in Science and 22% in Social Science

Question #3: Are you an international student? 99% of respondents were not international students.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #4: Which gender do you identify? Of the respondents, 26% were male, 72% were female, 1% preferred not to answer.

Question #5: Before visiting the website have you heard of the McMaster Students Union (MSU)? 98% of respondents heard of the McMaster Students Union (MSU).

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #6: Have you heard of the Student Representative Assembly (SRA?) 90% of respondents heard of the SRA, 10% have not.

Question #7: What is your understanding of both the MSU and the SRA? Overall, students had a good understanding of the MSU. Students recognized that the SRA is the governing body of the MSU who seeks to represent students. Many identified that the MSU provides services for students. While the majority of respondents were familiar with the MSU, some identified that they are unfamiliar with what the MSU does, but they have heard of the organization.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #8: Where do you obtain most of your information about the MSU? For this questions, the respondents were allowed to select all that apply. 45% of respondents obtain their information from, the MSU website, 26% The Silhouette, 61% on Facebook, 34% on Twitter, 11% on MacInsiders, 57% word of mouth, 38% from

posters, and 6% of respondents do not obtain information about the MSU.

Question #9: How can the MSU better reach out to students? Respondents identified that the MSU should continue using social media to reach out to students, however the MSU should develop a stronger online presence. One respondent suggested that the MSU create a short, point form bi-weekly or monthly digest of MSU activities which include links where students can access further information. Many students identified that electronic newsletters that get automatically sent out to all students would be effective since not everyone visits the MSU Facebook page. Another respondent said that it is important for representatives to have more of a presence on campus wether by talking to students in MUSC or hosting open forums. Several respondents identified that class talks and info graphic videos are effective ways of communicating and the MSU should organize more of them. On another note, some respondents noted that the MSU seems a lot more approachable and willing to hear student feedback. Some respondents identified that the MSU should increase promotion of their businesses and services during Welcome Week. One respondent also noted that it is important for the MSU to differentiate between the services they offer and those that the university offers since this is not apparent to everyone.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

SAFETY Question #10: Do you feel safe walking alone on campus?

56% of respondents selected “Yes”, 4% selected “No”, and 39% selected “It depends where I am walking”

Question #11: If you answered “No” or “It depends where I am walking.” please identify which of these spaces make you feel unsafe. Check all that apply. LOCATION The pathway behind Faculty Hollow/Hamilton Hall

28%

Area around Bates/Mary Keyes Residence

13%

Around Les Prince

7

%

8%

Across bridge towards Parking lot M

22%

Behind JHE (near the reactor)

20%

Area surround Thode library

12%

Area surrounding ABB

8%

Area surrounding Health Science Library

3%

Go Bus/ Bus Shuttle Terminal

9%

Ron Joyce Stadium

6%

Student Centre/Mills Plaza

2%

Other

7%

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #12: If you answered “No,� what actions can the University take to increase safety? What can be done?

%

Provide self defence classes

11%

Provide additional emergency phones

22%

Provide additional security on campus

20%

Install additional security cameras

20%

Install more lightening on campus

$35

Question #13: Have you heard of the Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT) 96% of respondents have heard of SWHAT, 4% have not.

Question #14: Have you ever used SWHAT? 13% have used SWHAT whereas 87% have not.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

STUDENT OPPORTUNITY Question #15: Are you aware of the volunteer opportunities within MSU services/ committees? 68% of respondents were aware of the volunteer opportunities provided by MSU, whereas 32% were not aware.

Question #16: Are you aware that the MSU provides opportunities for part time employment for students? 85% of students were aware, 15% of students were not.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #17: How effective is the MSU at disseminating information about employment? (1 being ineffective and 10 being excellent)

Question #18: How can the MSU best disseminate information to you? For this question, respondents were able to check all that apply. 71% selected “Email”, 83% selected “Social Media”, 55% selected “Posters”, 45% selected “Class talks” and 5% selected “Other”

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

STUDENT HEALTH Question #19: Are you satisfied with the healthy food options on campus? 37% of respondents selected “Yes”, whereas 63% of respondents identified that they are not satisfied with the healthy food options on campus. If not, why? Respondents were very concerned about the food on campus. Responses ranged from the lack of healthy food available, to costs to Nutritional Information not being provided. One respondent stated that “Nutrition information is not available for most foods, and when it is available it is only online. Essentially I don't know what I am eating. In places like Centro the vegetables are covered in butter and salt which turns something healthy into unhealthy.” Another respondent reinforced this statement by saying, “it is very difficult to evaluate how healthy a dish actually is because nutritional information is not provided” Another respondent stated that, “Fast food is much cheaper than healthy food on campus ($8 for a salad vs. $4 for as slice of pizza). Healthy options are also not available in many locations and the places that do offer healthier alternatives tend to run out quickly.” Many students identified this concern. The healthy options on campus are far too pricey in comparison to less healthier options, often forcing students to opt for the latter.

Question #20: Please rate the following in order of importance This question asked respondents to rate the following in order of importance to them: Reasonably priced food costs, making Nutritional information available to students, Greater variety of options on campus, More vegetarian, gluten free and halal options and the availability of healthy food on campus. On average, the majority of respondents indicated that having healthy, affordable options on campus is the most important. Second, food costs need to be more affordable. Third, many respondents would like to see the nutritional information for the food they are purchasing for all establishments on campus. Fourth, respondents would like to see more vegetarian, halal and gluten free options and fifth, greater variety of food options available on campus.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #21: Where do you most often purchase food on campus?

Location

%

Bistro

2%

Bridges

4%

BuyMac (DBAC)

0%

Centro

11%

La Piazza

31%

MoMac Building

3%

Need a Pita/ Mini Mac

4%

TwelvEighty

7%

Pheonix

8%

Union Market

16%

I do not purchase food on campus

9%

Other

7%

Question #22: How would you rate your ability to locate space on campus to eat during lunch and dinner hours? (1 being frustrating and 10 being easy)

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #23: Do you feel you would benefit from having a Registered Dietician (RD) on campus?

Question #24: Are you aware that the Student Wellness Centre (SWC) offers both medical and mental health services?

Question #25: Do you know where the SWC is located? 89% of respondents know where the SWC is located, 11% are unaware.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #26: If you have used the SWC, how satisfied are you with the services offered? (I being very disappointing and 10 being Very satisfied)

Question #27: Are you satisfied with the medical services on campus? 85% of respondents are satisfied, 15% are not.

Question #28: Are you satisfied with the mental health services on campus? 73% of respondents are satisfied, whereas, 27% are not.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #29: How can these services be improved? One of the most common responses was the fact that wait times in the Student Wellness Centre are far too long, though many have indicated that overall, they were very satisfied with the help they received. One respondent indicated that, “The wait times for mental health assistance make that service almost useless. It can take 6-8 weeks to get in to see your counsellor, and that is completely ineffective for continuing mental health care, which many need. While emergency appointments are available, they are so hard to follow up with since there is such a significant wait time. A student in crisis is not fixed in a 1 hour session, and needs attendance in the coming weeks, for both student health and safety.” Several respondents stated that the SWC needs to promote their services a lot more as many students are unaware of what is available to them. In addition, several respondents indicated that many students do not know where the SWC is located and suggested that reps take first year students on tours to the SWC during Welcome Week. One respondent suggested that the SWC host “Walk in hours” particularly on the weekend as many students fall ill on the weekend and would like to been seen before school.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

FINANCIAL AID Question #30: Have you used financial aid programs to fund your education? 59% of respondents have used some form of financial aid program to fund their education.

Question #31: Which Financial Assistance programs do/have you utilized? 47% of respondents selected OSAP, 52% 30% off Tuition Grant, 4% Canadian Student Loan Program (CSLP) 2% Private Loans, 10% Bank loans/Line of Credit, 4% selected other and 19% selected that they have not used any financial assistance programs. Question #32: If you utilize government financial aid, do you feel comfortable filling out their financial aid information? Is the process clear? 68% of respondents selected “Yes”, whereas 32% selected “No”

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #33: What can be done to help with the process? Several respondents indicated that the OSAP Repayments sessions were beneficial and that the MSU should work to provide more of those to students throughout the year. The majority of respondents identified a need for support and stronger communication within the Financial Aid and Student Accounts and Cashiers office. One respondent provided the suggestion of setting up ‘financial aid help desks’ in MUSC where students can be provided with help since the lines at the office tend to be lengthly and the office closes for lunch for a full hour which reduces students ability to access help.

Question #34: Do you have any additional information or feedback you want to provide in regards to financial aid? Please be specific if you are referring to a certain program. Respondents stated that the 30% Off Tuition Grant process was particularly unclear when it came to determining qualifications. Many students were under the assumption that they need to on OSAP to receive the grant. Respondents believe that the Student Financial Aid office can play a more active roll in disseminating application information to students in a much clearer way than what is currently provided on government websites. One respondent stated, “The process and questions are hard to follow especially for first year students. Either it needs to e clearer or an idea would be to have a how to video outlining where to get information and how to fill out the financial aid applications” Overall, a common theme in the responses to this question was that application information needs to clearer and students need to be able to access more help on campus.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

ACADEMICS Question #35: Generally speaking, do you believe your Professors expectations are fair? 76% of respondents believe that their professors expectations are fair, 24% do not. Question #36: If not, why? Respondents were able to select all that apply. Response

%

Lack of clarity within the course or assignments

22%

High weightage for final exams

21%

Too many course assignments, quizzes, midterms

12%

Inadequate support (being available via email or office hours)

12%

Other

5%

Question #37: Have you used your faculty’s career and cooperative education/ experiential education office? 40% selected “Yes,” 54% selected “No” and 7% selected “My faculty does not offer one”

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #38: For those who have ever registered or attempted to register in summer school, were you satisfied with the variety of courses that were offered during the summer? 24% selected “Yes,” 43% selected “No” and 32% selected “Somewhat”

Question #39: If you answered “No” or “Somewhat” for the above question, how could the variety be improved? Respondents were able to select all that applied Response Provide more program requirement courses Provide more seminar style courses

% 34% 9%

Provide more upper year courses

28%

My program rarely offers summer school courses

11%

Providing more evening courses

10%

If respondents selected “My program rarely offerers summer school courses,” they were able to identify which program they are in. It was noted that the Faculties of Humanities, Social Science and Science rarely offers courses for students during the summer months.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #40: In what academic environment do you learn most effectively? Response

%

Large lecture Hall (200-300 students)

12%

Seminar (approx. 20 students)

40%

Tutorials- led by Teaching Assistant

18%

Independent Study

16%

Practical and outside of the classroom learning

11%

Labs

0%

Other

2%

Question #41: Do you feel that you are adequately supported during exams? 72% of respondents selected “Yes,” 28% selected “No”

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #42: If you answered “No” what would you like to see provided on campus? Respondents identified that the libraries need to be open longer during exams. The majority of respondents would like to see the libraries open longer. In addition cleanliness of libraries during exam time tends to decline and as such, the respondents would like to see a degree of cleanliness maintained. Many respondents recognized the stress busters that MSU and Faculty Societies organize, and state that they are very beneficial and should continue to be done.

Question #43: Do you believe the McMaster Examination policy is reasonable? (3 consecutive exams can be rescheduled) 75% selected “Yes,” 25% selected “No”. In the comment section, respondents identified that having two consecutive exams can be burdensome. One respondent stated that, “It is asking for a lot, since each exam is about 3 hours long and can be tiresome on an individual, especially mentally. This also poses as an unfair advantage to those who do not have any exams prior on the same day and are coming in to write an exam well-rested. Thus, having 2 consecutive exams on the same day should also be allowed to be rescheduled.” Another respondent stated the following: “ Students should be able to reschedule two consecutive exams (meaning two exams within the same day.” This respondent indicated that writing and preparing for exams are very tiring and having two consecutive exams puts students at a disadvantage for the second because because: 1. They are still tired and 2. the little time between exams does not give students enough time to prepare or get into the rind state of mind for their second exam.” Many respondents indicated that they would like to see the exam scheduling policy changed.

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #44: How can the McMaster Libraries be improved? (Check all that apply) Response

%

More outlets

80%

More silent study

46%

More collaborative works spaces

39%

Better lighting

39%

Research support

17%

Longer hours

80%

Other

15%

The students who selected “Other� had the opportunity to identify what they felt needed to be improved in the libraries. The following are the responses gathered: Cleanliness, more silent student space, one library open 24/7 during exams. Question #45: Have you ever used the MSAF? (McMaster Student Absence Form)? 51% of respondents have used the MSAF, 49% of respondents have not. Question #46: Have you experienced any challenges with using the form?

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #47: If so, please explain what these challenges were? Some respondents indicated that professors have been questioning or not accepting MSAFʼs from students. One respondent stated that, “My professor was unclear on the

guidelines of the MSAF. The MSAF says you must contact your professor within 2 working days. I filled an MSAF out on the Friday, was going to contact my instructor on Monday, when he emailed me, saying that because I had not contacted him, he would immediately be taking off 25%, and an additional 25% for each subsequent day, because I had "filled out the form late". The MSAF is supposed to be filled out when you intend to return to school. He did not understand that, was completely unsupportive, and wouldn't reply to my emails trying to follow up or explain. I feel that instructors think most students use the MSAF as a get out of jail free card, and therefore treat all students as if they are either abusing the MSAF or not in fact sick

CAMPUS Question #48: How satisfied are you with McMaster University campus? 51% of respondents identified that they are “Very Satisfied”, whereas 41% are “Somewhat Satisfied”, 6% are “Neutral” and 2% are “Not Satisfied”

Question #49: What elements of campus do you believe need to be improved? (Check all that apply) 53% selected “Lecture Halls”, 30% selected “Classrooms”, 43% selected “Restroom Facilities”, 21% selected “Residence Buildings”, 43% selected “Libraries”, 49% selected “Food Facilities”, 31% selected “Building Infrastructure”, 43% selected “Pathways/ Sidewalks” 16% “Other”

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McMASTER STUDENTS UNION

Student Experience Survey 2012/2013

Question #50: Additional Comments: The following are some of the comments from respondents: • Thanks for conducting this survey! Great initiative. • Did not feel engaged in student life - needed more outreach to join activities in first year • Definitely improve pathways and sidewalks. It's very hard to get across campus during a wet day simply because of the floods and muddy paths! Some paths are so poorly maintained that new sidewalks are long OVERDUE! • I really do love this school and I'm so happy I came here. I would ask for longer library hours during the year, opposed to just during exams, and better food that's more reasonable priced but otherwise, I can't really complain. • OscarPLUS has frequently been a disaster when I try to register for events. I also do not get passwords during the voting seasons to elect a candidate to represent me. I also am very dissatisfied with the GMAIL service as it only stores 50 of my e-mails in any folder and then they magically disappear. GMAIL sometimes does not even send my emails to profs. • I appreciate that someone has taken the time to set up a survey to get student feedback. • The congestion in the student centre can be insane! Also, residences NEED to invest in decent vacuums and cleaning supplies.

• I have loved my time at Mac so far, and I find that being involved with extra-curricular and volunteer activities have really enhanced my experience. In terms of academics, I find I learn a lot better in smaller classes and with professor and student interaction. I feel really intimidated to speak up or ask questions in large lecture halls. • better promo of support services • Avenues for students to address their concerns about professors/ support services • Very upset with the unavailability of information regarding opportunities to get involved with MSU activities and services • Longer library hours • I've had a very positive experience at McMaster but I feel like it was a huge balancing act with academics and extra-curricular activities and I think finding creative ways to recognize the out of classroom learning that students engage in would be valuable.

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MSU Student Experience Survey