Surveying student media staffs

Data and analysis can aid recruitment, retention—and growth

By Jessica Clary
Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta

Introduction — To get to my office, you have to leave the main classroom building, drive (or walk) to the freshman residence hall (which is a mystery to many at a college with mostly commuters), go through a lobby without signs, past an elevator, then take a sharp turn down an unmarked hallway, past the bathrooms, and then knock on a locked door. If someone is there, they’ll come open it, unless you’re standing too close. The door opens out. I can’t tell you how many people have leaned in and hit the door. If you’re trying to get involved with Student Media at my college, there’s a chance your first experience will be getting lost, then getting hit in the face with a door.

But, nearly 10 percent of students at SCAD Atlanta are involved with student media in some way. Since 2011, I have been trying to figure out how they got here.

I learned early on that my pleas for huge, institutional changes (better office space, a more visible presence for our online-only student media, better racks for our print media, etc.) wouldn’t be easy, but finding out how we recruited and held on to the committed students I saw every day couldn’t be that hard.

Over the past six years, I have gathered and tracked data to be able to explain how, at SCAD Atlanta, our student media recruits and retains students. I can see what has worked, what hasn’t, and what has changed. I’ve been able to use the data to better prioritize and use the resources we do have, to continue to grow these programs within the college.

Research — SCAD Atlanta collects a lot of data about students involved with the program, but most of it is quantitative: dates, meeting sign-in sheets, application forms, etc. Once a year, we do a brief, easy qualitative survey to get feedback from involved students about their experience with the program. The survey is sent through Qualtrics to official university email addresses in April, collected and tabulated in May, and then analyzed over the summer by student leaders to implement changes in the fall.

The Survey and Opinion Matrix — The survey asks some factual, multiple-choice questions about how students found out about student media, when they got involved, etc.: Continue reading Surveying student media staffs