College Releases Results of Climate Survey

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West Shore Community College officials have received the results of a comprehensive climate survey conducted last spring, saying the results showcase areas of excellence while also identifying areas for improvement. The survey results set the stage for more in-depth planning in a way that best serves students.

The anonymous Personal Assessment of the College Environment (PACE) online survey was administered by the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) last April and included all of the college’s employee groups; faculty, support staff, and administrators.

According to NILIE, the purpose of the PACE survey is to promote open and constructive communication and to establish priorities for change by obtaining the satisfaction estimate of employees concerning the campus climate. Using a six-point scale, respondents are asked to select their survey response to items divided into four domains: institutional structure, supervisory relationship, teamwork, and student focus.

The institutional structure climate factor focuses on the mission, leadership, spirit of cooperation, structural organization, decision-making, and communication within the college. Supervisory relationship provides insight into the relationship between an employee and a supervisor and an employee’s ability to be creative and express ideas related to the employee’s work.

The survey also explores teamwork, the spirit of cooperation within work teams and effective coordination within teams. The student focus climate factor considers the centrality of students to the actions of the college as well as the extent to which students are prepared for post-college endeavors.

The results of the PACE survey “provide a snapshot into our employees’ experiences with and perceptions about their working environment,” President Kenneth Urban said in a college-wide message to college employees announcing the findings. “These important results provide a comprehensive view of how our institution is performing, highlights areas for growth, identifies opportunities for improvement, and provides a starting point for strategic planning as the college moves into its 50th anniversary celebration.”

Findings from this latest survey reflect the College’s strong commitment to student success, a commitment that has been central to the institution’s mission since its founding. “Preparing students for future learning” and “enhancing student competencies” received high marks when compared with other small two-year colleges. The survey also shows that WSCC employees have a strong belief that their “job supports the college mission” of making the community a better place to learn, live, work, and prosper.

The survey also identified several opportunities for improvement with information sharing and communication.  As a result, Urban has asked college support personnel, faculty, and administrators to meet within their respective groups over the next several months to develop recommendations to address these challenges.

“Since the PACE survey captures staff perceptions of campus climate, staff are best positioned to develop strategies to improve information sharing and communication; members of the faculty alone have over three centuries of collective knowledge and experience that will be tapped for strategy development,” said Urban.

In his email to the campus, Urban also underscored “while we have worked over the past year to be more accessible and share information, our results make it clear that there is more work to be done in this area.” He stated he looks forward to discussing staff recommendations and making changes that will make the college an even stronger academic community and community resource.

WSCC is among many community colleges nationwide using anonymous surveys to seek candid feedback from employees and students about their experiences, impressions of support services, and other opinions on the health of the college and the quality of the service it provides.

WSCC’s Office of Institutional Research worked with NILIE to administer the survey and compile the data.  The office is also leading the work on developing strategies to make improvements in all of the four domains assessed in the survey, based on the results. This is the fourth PACE survey the college has conducted since 2003.

Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Relations