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IRMA Engages Students Through Student Pulse Initiative

​Survey research on student perceptions of their experience at DePaul is an important part of the work done in EMM’s Institutional Research and Market Analytics (IRMA). Though IRMA utilizes a survey calendar to mitigate redundancy in data collection and to reduce survey fatigue, it continues to look for innovative ways to collect perceptions while maximizing student participation.

One approach is the Student Pulse initiative. Since the Student Pulse is a one-question “Yes/No” poll, the brevity allows IRMA to poll students more frequently (currently biweekly) and share results back to students quickly. It leverages DePaul’s social media presence as a wide-reaching means for connecting with students on platforms they are likely already using on a daily basis.
“The way our students communicate with each other and with DePaul has changed, but the importance of understanding the student experience remains critical. We have to think differently about student survey research and how we engage students in this conversation,” explains Liz Sanders, associate vice president for Institutional Research and Market Analytics.

The Student Pulse initiative is testing the efficacy of short surveys that combine timely, engaging topics with social media distribution (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat). For example, the first question asked whether students had visited the new Wintrust Arena and was conducted near the start of the basketball season. The approach appears to be effective, as the initial surveys have averaged over 600 responses each. 
 In addition to quickly “taking the pulse” of student perceptions, IRMA is rethinking survey research in an attempt to create an ongoing dialogue with students. 

“We recognize that our students are important stakeholders in the information collection process, but we do not typically inform them of results or how these results are used in institutional planning,” Sanders says. “With the Student Pulse initiative, we are testing ways to treat our students less as data sources and more as partners.”

As a start, the results from each Pulse are posted to the IRMA website and relevant notes are added to increase value for students.  For example, results posted on a prior survey question “Have you applied to any internships yet?” (which was submitted by a student) included information on the upcoming Winter Internship Fair. IRMA is also working with colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs to develop a student-oriented web page about upcoming surveys and how results are used.  

For more information about the Student Pulse initiative, please contact Joseph Magliari, IRMA database developer. For more information on DePaul surveys, please contact Joe Filkins, IRMA associate director.