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Calbright’s 2023 Student Experience Survey Results Express Student Satisfaction 

College Polls Students Annually to Innovate its Model and Improve Operations 

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 25, 2024 – Each year, Calbright College invites its students to participate in the Annual Student Experience Survey to facilitate feedback and enhance the student experience at the College. The 2023 Student Experience Survey illustrated that 91% of respondents would recommend Calbright to a friend, citing the College’s supportive staff and community as well as the free, flexible education as critical components. As a student-centered institution, Calbright is committed to providing a space for learners to communicate their needs and offer feedback, contributing to continued innovation and evolution of the College’s operation and student journey.

“At Calbright, our students’ goals and needs drive our programs, supports, and experience design,” said Don Orth, vice president for student services and success at Calbright College. “Student feedback provides insight for scaffolding a personal student journey that empowers every learner, especially as we expand our programs and deepen support services. The overwhelmingly positive response on the Student Experience Survey let’s us know we’re on the right track, and helps us identify areas we can improve to ensure we are helping students achieve their goals.” 

What Students Are Saying

The 2023 Student Experience Survey reflects high student satisfaction with Calbright’s programs and the overall experience:

  • 76% indicate that they are satisfied with their experience at Calbright and with what they have learned so far in their programs;
  • Nearly 85% agree or strongly agree that engaging with Success Counselors supports their academic journey, and nearly 60% agree or strongly agree that engaging with instructors contributes to their success; and
  • Students’ satisfaction with progress made toward personal educational and professional goals increased from 50% in 2022 to 61% in 2023.

Students shared positive feedback about Calbright’s supportive environment: “There is a true sense of community at Calbright and it is an extremely supportive program.” And about how Calbright’s curriculum is useful for transitioning careers: “As this is self paced, it’s been a perfect program for me to transition to IT even though I have experience already before, everything is kind of new to [me] since it’s been more than a decade already since I’ve applied what I’ve learned from my school before.”

Leveraging Data and Feedback to Improve Student Success

Calbright continuously works to ensure a positive, online education journey for students that leads to certificate completion, including developing new ways of structuring learning to ensure persistence. Student feedback suggested that the College’s flexibly paced education model, while the reason many students are able to enroll, can also sometimes act as a double-edged sword. In collaboration with UC Irvine’s School of Education and ideas42, Calbright developed a pilot model of program timelines—specifically for Customer Relationship Management Platform Administration students—that help create a customized structure for students. Looking across all programs, which now offer timelines, students are completing an average of 27.1% of assignments within their first 90 days, compared to just 15.5% before the timelines were implemented. The timelines have illustrated that leveraging data and behavioral science strategies can improve student outcomes. 

Additionally, after identifying potential barriers to engagement with Calbright support resources, Calbright developed short TikTok-style videos to foster one-on-one interactions with faculty and counselors as well as streamline the online learning experience. Specifically, one video focused on the enrollment process, another gave students a personal introduction to their success counselor, and a third offered a brief overview of the different career services resources available to students. The video nudges worked: the data suggest that students who received videos were more likely to engage with Calbright’s resources. 

Students spoke to the power of the videos to:

  • Help build a personal connection with Calbright, specifically faculty and support teams, 
  • Address points of confusion and reduce feelings of intimidation, and
  • Explain the particular support services we were spotlighting.

Driving Workforce Opportunities 

The survey highlights positive student experiences across the board, though students suggest that the top two areas for improvement within Calbright’s operations include “Connections to Employers” and “Preparation for Job Search.” Calbright continues to drive workforce opportunities for its learners both during their programs and beyond the virtual classroom by engaging with employment-related partners and expanding its holistic career services support. Through these partnerships the College identifies skills gaps, open job positions, and in-demand training that is either not currently offered or not available statewide. After identifying a high-demand for data analysis skills in California—there are currently over 10,000 openings statewide requiring them—Calbright partnered with Bakersfield College to co-develop an academic program that also serves as a pre-apprenticeship conduit. Additionally, Calbright recently partnered with Lightcast, a labor market analysis company, to explore and identify misaligned skills and degree requirements in the public sector that produce unintended barriers to economic mobility for Calbright learners. 

The College uses surveys, interviews, focus groups, and more as key sources of student feedback, collecting data throughout the year to gauge student and alumni satisfaction and to learn from their experiences with Calbright’s programs, systems, and services. In addition to the Annual Student Experience Survey, day-to-day work of success counselors, instructors, and other support teams who engage with students directly, the College distributes two other surveys at key moments throughout a student’s Calbright journey: the End-of-Term Survey and the Alumni Survey. Information from these surveys is used to help different teams design new solutions or improve current systems and practices.

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