Easy and Insightful Student Interest Survey Software

Bowie State University Makes a Case for Growth Using Ennect Survey

Highlights:

  • University gauges interest in new courses using surveys.
  • Ennect Survey used to validate need for new curriculum.

Bowie State University is a thriving higher educational institution that serves the needs of more than 5,000 students.

Most of them are from the regional triangle shaped by Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland, just south of it, and Washington, DC, to its north.

To serve the needs of a diverse student body, Bowie State offers 25 undergraduate majors, as well as 30 master's, doctoral, and advanced certification programs. As the needs of its students change though, some departments are turning to innovative techniques in an effort to keep pace.

One area, Visual Communication & Digital Media Arts (VCDMA), owes its genesis to innovative thinking and a unique model for developing and justifying new curriculum program development. Formerly a loosely-organized "computer graphics art concentration" within the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, VCDMA is now an official degree program, thanks to thoughtful use of Ennect online surveys to gather data to both validate interest and help make a business case.

A New Program Rises at Bowie State

"Five years ago, when I came to Bowie University, the computer graphics program, which had been started in the late '70s, really lacked focus," said VCDMA Associate Professor Tewodross Melchishua. "But today's students want a broader experience than just 'computer graphics.' Their interests bridge design, multimedia, video and animation."

"We needed to upgrade the program to make it competitive and we wanted to change its name. But to do that and have the new major approved, we had to submit a proposal to the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). To shore up our proposal, we needed to explore what areas students were interested in for college majors. That's where Ennect came in," explained Professor Melchishua.

If We Build It, Will They Come?

That was essentially the question that Bowie University needed to answer. By using Ennect Survey, the university got the information it needed.

"We'll definitely be using Survey more in the future when we want to add new concentrations and possible majors and minors. Ennect makes surveys accessible and because they're online, fast, and easy to take, our students don't mind giving us feedback."

Tewodross Melchishua

Associate Prof., Visual Communication & Digital Media Arts
Bowie State University

"We created the first survey for students here in paper form, but searched for an online tool that would allow us to expand our distribution and more easily collect and process the data we collected," Professor Melchishua explained. "Ennect's survey product seemed ideal. It made it easy to create the survey, share it, collect the data, and filter it so that we could analyze it in a variety of ways."

Once the survey was developed, the faculty distributed the survey link to high schools and community colleges in a 50 mile radius. The university also asked transfer students, freshman and sophomores on campus to take the survey. When collected and compiled, the results were sent as part of the proposal to MHEC to help support and validate the rationale for the new program.

"The proposal needed to include demographics showing who would potentially attend the program. The survey results provided that. Ennect Survey was really instrumental in helping us figure out what programs and what areas of concentration we really needed to offer," said Professor Melchishua.

In early 2010, the new program was approved. Much different than the old computer graphics curriculum, the new VCDMA program will include five different concentrations for students: fashion design, advertising design, animation and motion graphics, digital filmmaking, and an interdisciplinary concentration of digital media arts that combines traditional art classes with digital methodologies. Ennect Survey helped identify the student interest which resulted in these programs.

A New Building Rises; What to Put in It?

Today, as the new building rises that will house it, VCDMA mulls over next steps for its new major. And all points indicate that Ennect will play a major part. With VCDMA's success, other department colleagues are looking to adopt Professor Melchishua's model for gathering data and using it to validate new program proposals.

"We'll definitely be using Survey more in the future when we want to add new concentrations and possible majors and minors. Ennect makes surveys accessible and because they're online, fast, and easy to take, our students don't mind giving us feedback," said Professor Melchishua. "And they'll be even more important for us in the future. Since they allow us to see shifts in demand for classes, we'll be better able to respond to our students' needs with more robust programs."


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