Student surveys can be a powerful and cost effective way to gain insight into the student experience. The Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) survey gathers information about student engagement in activities that have been empirically shown to influence student learning and positive educational outcomes, both inside and outside of the classroom. Some benefits of the SERU is that item responses provide actionable information for faculty, staff and administrators. They can also serve as indicators of academic program and institutional effectiveness. SERU results can be compared across institutions as a way for a college or university to make peer comparisons.
The image below represents each section of the SERU survey. Click on a survey section to view a gallery containing images of the 2015 SERU survey as viewed by a University of Minnesota Student.
The survey is administered to all degree-seeking University of Minnesota undergraduate students. The items provide a comprehensive snapshot of the student experience, tapping into diverse domains of interest to a variety of campus stakeholders. There are several items designed to gather information on students' academic and civic engagement, students' learning and development, and students' participation in other areas of campus. Additionally, students respond to items that provide insight into students' perceptions of the campus climate for diversity, students' overall satisfaction, and students' evaluation of their academic major (if applicable). Since the survey asks students about their background, beliefs, motivations, and perspectives, it provides additional insight into students' academic and co-curricular engagement (or disengagement). The diversity in responses provides the unique opportunity to explore students' experiences through a variety of lenses.
There is also customizable module available whereby colleges and universities can create items that reflect topics and issues of particular interest to them. Based on the unique context of research universities, a deliberate effort was made to capture the complexity of these institutions. Survey items are designed to provide data for analysis at not only at the institutional level, but also by department, college, and even academic major. Since research universities are often complex organizations, the ability to identify specific areas within the institution can inform targeted self-improvement efforts, as well as provide evidence of quality at multifaceted levels.
The survey was developed by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley campus. More details about the SERU survey can be found on the CSHE homepage.