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Student Engagement

Data and Insights

3 minute read

Student Engagement Survey: The Biggest Challenges & Tasks


If you’ve been in charge of keeping up student communication and engagement through the pandemic—or you’re tasked with establishing plans for the future of your campus’s student experience—you know how difficult it can be to get students involved in your school’s community and in their own academic careers. COVID-19 is only one of the many roadblocks the industry must overcome on the way to making more authentic, complete connections with students.

To see where schools are directing their efforts, we surveyed 345 higher education leaders made up of chancellors, provosts, deans, directors, and other peer administrators who are responsible for student engagement and success. We were after details on the activities that fill their workdays and the biggest challenges they have with boosting engagement. What we found from their responses gave us a pulse on this facet of the industry—the big areas in which student engagement professionals and their peers still need a little help.

Top Student Engagement Challenges

Adequate tools

More than 44% of schools say they lack adequate student engagement tools.

A little less than half of the academic professionals we surveyed said they lack adequate student engagement tools. And out of the tools that available to them, nearly half of those surveyed said they don’t have the integration and data reporting capabilities they’re looking for. Over a third admitted that their current processes for tracking student engagement are too time consuming, which isn’t too surprising. The methods many schools use to keep tabs on participation and student success are disappointing when it comes to tracking data quickly and efficiently for better decision-making. This is almost always due to outdated or bloated technology or even manual efforts that prevent schools from making the most of the data they gather.

Top Student Engagement Activities

Most time spent activities

Around 61% of student engagement activities are focused on improving program awareness and adoption among students.

Schools need help in several key areas when it comes to creating fun and beneficial student experiences that satisfy larger strategic initiatives, but most of the survey participants are concerned with developing new programming to shape student journeys, working on student awareness and program adoption, and maintaining effective communication channels for student success. One avenue of current program efforts should be exploring virtual learning experiences. Employing virtual engagement techniques will not only help your students stay active while they work hard from home, but also prepare your institution for the academic landscape we’ll see form in the next few months and shift beyond 2020.

Time Spent on Student Engagement Data Entry

time tracking

Over 46% of schools report spending a fifth of their time or more trying to track student engagement.

The results were disheartening from our question to participants on how much time they spend on data entry. When more than a fifth of your time is spent not on reviewing and interpreting data but on gathering and putting it into a tracking system, something isn’t right. You should aim to spend more precious work hours on leveraging quantitative and qualitative insights for strategic decision-making, but it seems that technology may be the culprit behind the data entry time suck. Solutions that allow you to manipulate data quickly and integrate whatever tools you need to truly use that data are the answer.

Finding Student Engagement Solutions

From the insights we gathered in this survey and recent discussions with our partner schools, we can offer first-hand perspective on how many higher education professionals feel about their student engagement situation.

  • Frustrated with technology options for collecting and analyzing data
  • Tired of being ill-equipped for performing their role successfully
  • Excited to find new ways of keeping students engaged virtually
  • Hopeful about creating new programs for students moving forward
  • Eager about adopting new tools for tracking student success

To what extent do you feel prepared to meet your engagement goals? How much have you achieved over the last few months, and how are you managing change moving forward to improve participation? How satisfied are you with your data-tracking tools?

At Suitable, we’re all about approaching student engagement, development, and success differently to help colleges and universities transform their student experience and increase the value offered to students. And part of that is organizing programs intuitively and providing better options for data entry and integrated tracking. If you’re curious about how we stand out among other solutions, get in touch to chat about your student engagement challenges, obtain input on your goals, and see Suitable for yourself.

You can also view a recording of the webinar we hosted with Shippensburg University on student engagement and career readiness to find more information student engagement tactics, approaches to participation through the pandemic, and the technology that’s transforming how colleges and universities are constructing new student experiences.

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Mark Visco Jr.

Mark Visco Jr.

Chief Executive Officer