ITS surveys campus users

For the first time in about 12 years, Yale’s Information Technology Services is conducting a campuswide evaluation of its performance.

The survey is based on a Pepperdine University model, which contains 18 core questions that ask students, faculty and staff to rate technology services such as Internet access, support and availability of electronic resources. Yale’s survey, released March 29, adds three questions tailored to its users about storage and email service. But ITS Associate Chief Information Officer Chuck Powell said the office does not yet know how it will change its services as a result of the survey.

“The survey basically asks you to answer the question, ‘What’s the minimum you need and what’s the max you would like?” Powell said. “Are we over the minimum? Somewhere near the ideal? Better than the ideal?”

Powell, who has been looking to introduce the survey since January, said the template provided by Pepperdine’s TechQual+ research project — which is intended to gauge users’ satisfaction with technology services at universities and other institutions — allows ITS to compare itself to other higher education institutions that use the same survey. He added that ITS surveys generally yield a 10 to 15 percent response rate, but added that he hopes to reach 25 to 50 percent participation.

To incentivize participation, ITS partnered with some of its vendors to award 20 randomly selected respondents prizes such as printers, netbook computers and gift certificates at no cost to Yale, Chief Information Officer Philip Long said in an email accompanying the survey.

Since the survey went live, Powell said, 4,000 of the 24,000 community members emailed have submitted responses. He said ITS will read all of the individual comments participants enter in a form below each question — a feature ITS added to the TechQual+ survey for Yale users. He added that he and two other ITS workers have already sifted through some of the thousands of responses, and that he anticipates adding more staff members to help read all the feedback.

“We want to read and understand what people are saying about our services,” Powell said. “There’s a lot of text to be read there, but I can tell you that each and every comment is going to get read.”

He said ITS will not track individual responses, but will analyze data trends by comparing student opinions to faculty or staff opinions, and will also examine subgroups — such as residents of a single residential college — to track differences across campus.

Timothy Chester, vice provost and chief information officer at Pepperdine, said about 50 institutions currently use the survey and numbers are growing, adding that 12 schools are now conducting the survey.

Chester said that institutions can choose to contribute their data anonymously to TechQual+’s peer database, which groups schools into categories such as “liberal arts” or “research.” Institutions that donate information to the peer database are guaranteed access to it for the next two years, Chester said. Powell said access to the survey results of other institutions was a determining factor in the University’s decision to use the TechQual+ survey.

Chester said the peer database has revealed trends about how people see technology services. He said the three most important aspects of technology services to survey participants across the board are the “three C’s: communication, consistency and collaboration.”

But the database also elucidates differences among user groups, Chester said.

“People who are older than 35 think a help desk goes hand in hand with good technology service,” Chester said. “People who are younger than 35 tend to think that if you’re having to get help with technology, something is wrong. Nobody ever calls the Facebook help desk or the Gmail help desk.”

Five of 14 students interviewed said they had completed the survey.

Annie Barry ’14, who said she enjoys taking surveys while on study breaks, said the ITS survey was “boring” compared to other Yale surveys she has taken. But Hana Omiya ’13 said she is glad ITS is running the survey.

The survey will remain open through the end of term.

Contact zoe gorman at

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