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 2014 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 academic and civic engagement, student learning and development, student services, and globalization. Additionally, students respond to items that provide insight into students' academic and personal development, perceived campus climate for diversity, overall satisfaction, and evaluation of the major (if applicable). Since the survey asks students about their background, beliefs, motivations, and perspectives, it provides additional insight into academic and co-curricular engagement (or disengagement). The diversity in responses provide the unique opportunity to explore the student experience through a variety of lenses.

There is also customizable module available where colleges and universities can create items that reflect topics and issues of particular interest to them. Finally, SERU items were created to gather information about a specific college student population: Students who attend research institutions. Based on the unique context of research universities, a deliberate effort was made to capture the complexity of these institutions. Survey items are designed that allow for analysis not only at the institutional level, but also by 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.

Related Resources

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.

Survey Instruments

  • 2014 (PDF or click survey sections in image on left to view each part of survey)
  • 2013 (PDF of the SERU and PDF of the 2013 factor analysis)
  • 2012 (PDF or Word download)
  • 2011 (did not participate)
  • 2010 (PDF)