Survey Data and Writing Center Impact

Inspired by presentations at this year’s SWCA conference, I have begun to mine past survey data to find new and engaging ways to show the effects our writing center has on students. The word cloud below is part of my renewed foray into analytics and data collation.


Allow me to provide a bit of context. I have spent the last week examining my notes from the conference, watching Excel tutorials on YouTube, and shifting between ebullient celebration and technological despair. After arming myself with some new knowledge (newledge?), I went through my center’s survey data for the calendar year of 2016. In total, the center received 287 student surveys. The first question on our survey asks students to rate their session on sliding scale: excellent – very good – good – fair – poor – unacceptable. While these terms are useful and allow me to adjust to student needs and criticisms, they do not allow me to calculate an average rating. Therefore, I converted the terms to numbers on a 1-to-6 scale, with 6 being excellent. For 2016, the average rating for a tutoring session was a 5.74.

Many of our survey questions ask students to write out longer responses. For example, after rating the session, students are asked to offer an explanation of their rating. I used all of the responses to this question to create the word cloud. The size of each word corresponds to the frequency with which it appears in the student responses. I am more than a little pleased to see that HelpGaveGreatGoodVery, and Friendly stand out so prominently.

Stay tuned for more updates as I delve deeper into the world of big data!