t. Louis U. High’s Campus Ministry Department has begun processing the feedback from a fall survey of faculty and students regarding various programs and events.
The survey featured questions about three main categories: liturgy and prayer, retreats, and service. The majority of the total questions consisted of rating various events and programs on a scale of one to five.
“Because there hadn’t been anything like this in a long time, I think one of our objectives was to get a sense of how people feel about the things we do, such a big part of life here at SLUH,” said campus minister Meg Beugg. “We wanted to see what was working well, what we could improve, and to hear from the types of people that we normally wouldn’t hear from.”
The survey also included 15 free response questions, a chance to explain the ratings.
In terms of common themes on the survey, Campus Ministry chair Nick Ehlman hesitated to comment on specific programs since many people commented negatively and positively on the same program or event.
One overarching theme Ehlman noted was the level of student involvement in campus ministry, which Ehlman attributed to the advent of grade-level pastoral teams. He also noted the mostly positive responses about retreats, masses, and service programs.
Campus minister Simonie Anzalone said that there were several comments expressing that retreats have improved over the past few years.
“One of the overwhelming responses was that students just felt so overwhelmed with school and other activities that they felt like they couldn’t miss three days,” said Anzalone. “That’s something we’re definitely going to explore with the administration to figure out how we can somehow manage to prioritize the retreat for students.”
People heavily criticized sophomore retreat, though it didn’t come as a surprise to Anzalone, who has been aware of complaints against the retreat before.
“It’s an ongoing process for us to figure out what’s going to work for the sophomore year,” said Anzalone.
“Based on what we saw from the results, the next step is to talk to each one of the teachers who is involved with the programs,” said campus minister Shane Monaghan, who wrote the survey. “That’s definitely the next step: taking what we’ve found and beginning conversations.”
Ehlman hopes to have these conversations before the end of the year.
The free written responses added context and explanation to the ratings of various events and programs. Students were given a ten-to 15-minute window in theology class to complete the survey.
With close to 1,000 people partaking in the survey, scanning and sorting the free responses has been a large task. Math teacher and statistics guru Craig Hannick has used software called FileMaker Pro to create a layout in which individual responses to the whole survey can be seen. Beugg said that it’s helpful to look at the survey results on the individual basis since patterns can be seen or a more coherent understanding of the person’s feedback can be drawn.
By sorting the free-written responses of the 924 students and 38 faculty members, Ehlman hopes to share the responses with various faculty members who are involved in campus ministry programs such as freshman service, senior project, and the retreats. That way, meetings can occur in smaller focus groups to discuss possible changes to these programs for next school year and beyond.
After finalizing discussions about November’s survey, Campus Ministry hopes to implement some possible changes next year. Smaller changes to masses or prayer services could be implemented as soon as next school year. Changes to retreats will take a longer process to discuss and plan.
“I think next year would be kind of a working year to plan what we could do next, and then hopefully implementation the following year,” said Anzalone on possible changes to the retreat program.
The survey will be used as a starting point for other feedback means to come. With the November survey taking place before both Senior Project and several retreats, Ehlman mentioned that he could see the timing of future surveys being moved to the early spring or the end of the year to better accommodate people’s reactions to events and programs. Ehlman said ideas for gathering instant feedback after retreats has also been talked about in the past.