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Academic Technology

Student Survey - Nov 2016

In November 2016, an online survey was distributed to all Santa Clara University students to gauge their opinions, understanding, and satisfaction with Camino, the school’s learning management system. This is the first such survey of students since Instructure’s Canvas LMS was implemented at the university in 2013. Nearly 600 responses were tallied. This report gives an overview of the findings in the survey and makes recommendations based on the results.

Key Findings

  • Santa Clara University students are mostly satisfied using Camino as 72.62% agree or strongly agree with the statement ‘I am satisfied using Camino’ compared to 9.34% reporting they disagree or strongly disagree.
  • Students check Camino often as 78.41% report they check daily or multiple times a day.
  • Students report that on average 2.88 of their Fall Quarter 2016 professors use Camino for reasons beyond posting the course syllabus.
  • Students want more Camino use, specifically: accurate grades posted online, more assignments with due dates and details, and clearer organization of course resources; however, they want fewer notifications and messages.
  • Students report strong preference for receiving communications through their SCU Gmail account as opposed to Camino.

Response Overview

Students are satisfied with Camino.

  • Santa Clara University students are mostly satisfied using Camino, with 72.62% reporting they strongly agree or agree with the statement ‘I am satisfied using Camino’ compared to 9.34% reporting they disagree or strongly disagree. This is notably similar to Northwestern University’s Fall 2015 survey, one of the few Canvas studies posted online by a university:

Students want their grades posted online.

  • 81.4% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that it is helpful to receive feedback (grades, comments, rubric assessments, etc.) through Camino.
  • 79.6% of respondents either agree or strongly agree that it is helpful to track course progress with the Grades function.
  • Posting grades was the most requested topic for what students wish professors would do more of on Camino, appearing in 31.7% of all open-ended responses.
    • Ex. “Actually use Camino besides uploading the Syllabus/ other files they don't want to print; input all grades, then I always know where I stand in the class and it motivates me to do better” - Anonymous junior in the Social Sciences, 11/3/16 0:30

Students want clearer organization of course resources.

  • Many students requested more organization of course resources, either through Modules or Files. For Modules, many students requested weekly modules with all assignments and readings. For Files, many students requested a folder system and more accurate file names.
  • Students find the Syllabus to be more helpful than the Calendar or To-Do List in helping them stay organized with course due dates and events although many request professors add due dates to assignments (which would place the same content in all three locations).
    • Eleven open-ended responses included verbiage about placing the syllabus on the Syllabus page.
  • Many open-ended responses to the question, ‘What are the most successful ways that faculty use Camino to organize course content?’ highlight these ideas:
    • Ex. “They post assignments with the due dates so that it shows up on the assignments tab and "coming up" bar. For files I have no preference whether they use files or modules as long as they are organized by week or topic. I do notice that professors usually have the modules organized but don't organize the files tab.” - Anonymous sophomore Math student, 11/3/16 15:29
    • “The course work is usually organized by week in the modules or by class in terms of notes and powerpoints in the Files section. Camino really helps with all these things.” - Anonymous first year student in the School of Engineering, 11/2/16, 22:46
    • Ex. “It really doesn’t matter to me. Each instructor uses it the way he does and as long as it’s consistent, it works” - Anonymous graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences, 11/11/16 11:35
    • Ex. “When the teacher has it well organized (which most don't get around to it) it is very nice when they upload additional material like videos.” - Anonymous graduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences, 11/11/16 6:57
    • Ex. “Modules by week are the most useful. Setting a due date so camino lists "coming up" is very helpful. If prof uses files, they need to be very organized and clearly named.” - Anonymous junior in the Natural Sciences, 11/2/16 22:59

Students want fewer notifications and messages.

  • Students prefer receiving notifications through the SCU Gmail account instead of Camino.
  • They also request fewer notifications and communications.
    • Ex. “I get notified every time a professor adds a files or document. I wish that was disabled (this could be on my end but i have tried to disable this action). Send less inboxes as email is best.” - Anonymous junior in the Natural Sciences, 11/2/16 at 22:59

Students believe their professors are thoughtfully using Camino for organization and communication (even if their open-ended responses include suggestions for improvements).

  • These results will be best understood when longitudinally compared with similar questions on future surveys. This will also help track perceived improvements and the effectiveness of Camino workshop instruction.

Students are comfortable in their ability to use Camino.

  • Only 1.8% of students disagree that they understand how to use the tool, and only 3.0% disagree or strongly disagree that they are comfortable using the tool.  
  • An equal 67.3% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they can easily navigate both Files and Modules, with Modules having a slight edge in strongly agree.

Open-ended Responses

The survey allowed students to leave open-ended responses about what they want more and less of on Camino.

What do students wish professors did LESS of on Camino? (158 responses)

  • Send Mass Communication. Thirty-three students (20.9% of responses) reported they receive too many notifications and communications.
    • Ex. “Notifications! Make it stop!! I can't get 3 notifications from one professor per day.  I'm not trying to subscribe to a Professor's twitter feed.  Please ask professors to use sparingly.” - Anonymous Law Student, 11/3/16 16:42
  • Disorganized Files. Twenty-five students (15.8% of responses) commented that it was tedious to find some files using the Files system.
    • Ex. “Stop Hiding Files in strange places I can't find them if it takes five clicks into the right direction with multiple wrong paths and dead ends. Also name things what you tell us they are named when assigned I can't decode what you named a file into what you told us the homework was.” - Anonymous junior in College of Arts & Sciences, 11/10/16 21:30
  • Discussions. Thirteen students (8.2% of responses) requested fewer discussions.  
    • Ex. “Discussion boards are usually not very helpful because people don't read each other's comments.” - Anonymous sophomore Math student, 11/2/16 22:46
  • General Disorganization. Ten students (6.3% of responses) commented that finding materials on Camino was difficult.
    • Ex. “Less layers of information; we shouldn't have to dig around to find what we are looking for.” - Anonymous graduate student in the Leavey School of Business, 11/3/16 8:10
  • Not Publishing or Posting Course Content. Nine students (5.7% of responses) found it frustrating that course content -- ranging from assignments, grades, syllabi and others -- was either not included on Camino or was not properly published in a timely manner.
    • Ex. “Uploaded files throughout the quarter. Just put them up before it's published so we already have everything.” - Anonymous senior in the Leavey School of Business, 11/3/16 17:03

What do students wish professors did MORE of on Camino? (252 responses)

  • Post Grades. Eighty students (31.7% of responses) requested that professors post grades or provide up-to-date grades on Camino.
    • Ex. “Post all the grades to Camino so that it is an accurate representation of how well I am doing “ - Anonymous junior in the School of Engineering, 11/2/16 22:58
  • Organize Course Content. Forty-three students (17.1% of responses) wished professors would more thoughtfully organize their course content, specifically files and assignments.
    • Ex. “I wish they all used it for its organization features and not just a place to store files. Also, they should post grades online, and in a timely manner” - Anonymous senior in the Humanities, 11/6/16 22:03
  • Post Assignments. Twenty-three students (9.1% of responses) listed posting assignments to Camino, particularly posting all assignments, including accurate due dates, and keeping them updated.
    • Ex. “keep 100% of assignments in camino so we have a running view of our current grade and class progress (as opposed to putting large assignments on camino and not bothering with homework)” - Anonymous junior in the School of Engineering, 11/6/16, 14:33
  • Use It. Nineteen responders (7.5% of responses) simply want more professors to use it.
    • Ex. “Actually using it! Some professors choose not to upload anything and it is really annoying. I don't know if they realise how much easier it is to keep your time managed and stay on top of the courses content.” - Anonymous undeclared first year student, 11/4/16 9:21
  • Include Accurate Due Dates. Eighteen students (7.1% of responses) wished their teachers would include accurate due dates on assignments so that they would appear on their calendars and to-do lists.
    • Ex. “Post on the To Do list and update the calendar with the activities instead of just having them on the syllabus.  I have to go to all my class syllabi to see what is going on for each day individually which could be done more efficiently.” - Anonymous first year student in the Leavey School of Business, 11/3/16 17:33

Recommendations for Professors

  • Organize course content (readings, assignments, quizzes, videos, etc.) into weekly, sequential Modules with all components clearly labeled. If not using Modules, use the file system with clear naming conventions and separate into weekly folders.
  • Include details and due dates on assignments.
  • Clearly communicate how they intend to communicate with students (email, course-wide announcements, inbox messages, etc.) and let the other notifications do the work for due dates, assignments, feedback, etc.
  • Post the syllabus on Syllabus page
  • If they aren’t going to post accurate grades, select ‘Hide totals in student grades summary’ under Settings so that students aren’t confused about their scores.
  • Remove superfluous course items from Files or Modules

Although efforts were made to ensure the validity and usefulness of this survey, it is not a scientific study, and it should only be used as a general gauge of Camino use at Santa Clara University during the Fall Quarter 2016. There is response bias towards technologically-inclined students since the survey was only administered online, and, since the survey was open, anyone could have taken it and done so multiple times. There are no obvious discrepancies in the data.