Study: UI students happy with UI life

BY IAN MURPHY | MARCH 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa Provost and Executive Vice President P. Barry Butler told the Faculty Senate on Tuesday that UI students are pleased with their experience, according to a recent report.

The Student Experience of the Research University survey, based at the University of California-Berkley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, provides an extensive overview of student experience.

“It’s asking them questions like, ‘Do you like your experience at a research university,’ ” Butler said during his annual presentation to the Faculty Senate.

Overall, Butler said, 87 percent of UI students expressed satisfaction with their academic experience and 86 percent with their social experience.

Butler said about one-third of students responded to the survey, which started with a set of core questions.

The questions then branched out to one of four different surveys, which addressed academic engagement, civic and community engagement, student life and development, or UI wildcard questions.

“We use [this information] to kind of compare ourselves with other research universities,” Butler said.

Three other Big Ten universities participated —the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan, and Purdue University.

Butler said the survey reflects the university very positively.

“We can always learn and improve in certain areas,” Butler said. “But in terms of overall satisfaction, engagement, and sense of belonging, a lot of the things we’re doing, as an institution, are showing up as positive attributes.”

Students are also pleased with the quality of instruction they receive, as well as availability of professors, according to the survey.

Ninety percent of students expressed satisfaction with the quality of instruction by faculty, and 92 percent expressed satisfaction with access to faculty outside of class, according to the survey.

“I thought it was very positive,” said Jane Pendergast, a UI professor of biostatistics and a member of the Faculty Senate. “We were all very happy.”

Butler said the positive views students hold about the UI reflect the experiences they have had.

“It ends up with really successful students coming out and alumni who really like this place,” he said.

Butler said the UI offers many programs to help students, including OnIowa, first-year seminar classes, as well as such opportunities as study abroad.

Faculty Senate President Erika Lawrence said the survey results are very exciting.

“It looks like there are a lot of efforts being made to support students during their under graduate and graduate careers,” she said.

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