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Columbia College Chicago
Student Satisfaction Inventory
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Student Satisfaction Inventory


 The Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) is a questionnaire developed by Noel-Levitz, Inc. to measure students’ rankings of satisfaction and importance regarding academic programs, student services and overall campus life. The SSI was first administered to Columbia College Chicago students in 1995, and is now administered every other year. In this report, results from the 2009 SSI are compared to the 2007 administration, as well as to a selected group of peer institutions and national means.

The 89 questions included on the SSI are grouped and averaged to create 12 different scales to measure the satisfaction with and importance of items to students at the institution. A summary is included at the end of this executive summary.

Among the highlights of this report:

  • Columbia has improved its satisfaction ratings on almost every scale since the 2007 administration of the survey.
  • Columbia continues to show significantly higher satisfaction ratings than selected peers on almost all scales of the survey.
  • Columbia continues to experience challenges in the area of academic advising.


2007 - 2009 Comparison
The average scores students give to Columbia have improved on 11 of the 12 scales since the 2007 administration of the survey. Of particular interest, Safety and Security and Campus Life showed the greatest improvement. Academic Advising, however, showed a decline in satisfaction ratings.


    Columbia vs. Peer Institutions
    On 10 of the 12 scales, Columbia students rated their satisfaction with the college significantly higher than students from peer institutions rated their college. Only Academic Advising earned a lower rating than other institutions, while the Recruitment and Financial Aid rating was statistically even to the rating at peer institutions. In fall 2009, Columbia College will implement a new advising model to address student concerns, as well as introducing new financial aid programs to address student retention.



    Columbia vs. National Averages
    Columbia performs significantly better than the national means on the Instructional Effectiveness, Campus Support Services, Campus Life, and Responsiveness to Diverse Populations scales. However, Columbia has lower satisfaction ratings than the national means for Academic Advising, Recruitment and Financial Aid, and Concern for the Individual. All other ratings were statistically similar to those of the national means.



    Columbia College Performance Gap Analysis
    The performance gap score measures the difference between the level of importance students have given to a particular item and their satisfaction with that item. It shows how well the college is meeting students’ expectations. According to the guidelines provided by Noel-Levitz, Inc., a performance gap score of less than zero indicates that the institution has exceeded the students’ expectation. Gap scores that fall between zero and 1.50 suggest areas where the institution is almost meeting expectations. Large performance gaps — those greater than 1.50 — indicate areas where students feel that their needs are not being adequately met.

    Only two areas, Academic Advising and Recruitment and Financial Aid, fell into the range of not meeting students’ expectations. However, both of these areas have programs being implemented in fall 2009 to address student concerns.

    Individual Item Comparisons with 2007 Administration of Survey
    Among the improvements in individual items since the 2007 administration of the survey, campus maintenance, intramural activities, cafeteria selections and campus pride are among the greatest increases in satisfaction ratings.

    Individual Item Comparisons with Peer Institutions
    Columbia rates high on items concerning its commitment to non-traditional and disabled students. In addition, the college received high ratings for protecting freedom of expression, having a commitment to racial harmony, and having a good variety of courses available to students.

    When comparing items that have significantly lower ratings than peer institutions, academic advising items again appear in the list of lowest ratings. Items concerning academic excellence, financial aid, and timely faculty feedback display lower ratings.


     The results of the 2009 administration of the Student Satisfaction Inventory indicate that Columbia has improved its satisfaction rating greatly since the 2007 administration of the survey. In fact, Columbia’s ratings significantly improved on a third of all questions on the survey.

    Of the 89 questions on the survey with student satisfaction ratings, only eight questions received lower ratings in 2009 than in 2007, and only four of those were significantly lower ratings. Those four questions all relate to the Academic Advising scale, and specifically, with the questions that ask directly about academic advising. In addition to recent results from the Graduating Student Survey, the SSI offers additional evidence that this remains an institutional challenge. In fact, a new advising model will be implemented in fall of 2009 to address this issue.

    Satisfaction ratings indicate that Columbia’s Campus Support Services, Campus Life, and Responses to Diverse Populations outshine peer institutions as well as national means. In fact, Columbia outperforms peer institutions overall, and is quite competitive with national means.

    A particular strength, Columbia’s responsiveness to diverse populations, is further reinforced by individual item ratings for the scale. Columbia handily outperforms its peers and national means for responsiveness to evening students, under-represented populations, and students with disabilities.

    Two individual areas where Columbia had lower satisfaction ratings against both peers and national norms on the 2005, 2007 and 2009 administration of the SSI are about the college’s commitment to academic excellence and having adequate financial aid available to students. Additionally, the ratings of the timeliness of faculty feedback at Columbia have been lower than peer institutions and national means in both 2007 and 2009.

    In response to these recurrent issues, the college has increased scholarship monies by nearly $3 million for this upcoming academic year. Previous research has identified that the growing number of better academically prepared students, having higher expectations of academic challenge in the classroom, have expressed lower levels of satisfaction with the college’s academic programs. While Columbia has initiated plans to develop an Honors College to address this student demand, the continuing issue of academic excellence and academic challenge among students may indicate a need for further evaluation of course and program content.


    For the full report and executive summary brochure, please see the .pdf links on the right side of this page.