Surveys to Improve Student Life

Director of Institutional Research Mr. Corey Wrinn began a project this academic year that will tie together the entire experience of a Choate student. The project will consist of two major components: the new student survey administered, which was administered for the first time last August, and the sixth-form survey, which will be sent out just before graduation.

“The idea is that we build a baseline for what students want and expect from the school in general when they come in, and then we’ll measure it again as they go out, in the senior survey,” Mr. Wrinn said.

All new students completed a survey that assessed  their initial perceptions of Choate, their goals for their time here, and their expectations for both themselves and Choate over the next four years. The senior survey, which all current seniors will take, is centered on takeaways. It will attempt to gauge what has been significant or meaningful in students’ lives throughout the years, and it aims to gather their suggestions  — about what they thought worked well in their time at Choate and what might be improved. Mr. Wrinn said that areas for improvement might include the dorm lottery, visitation rules, and the daily schedule.

To make sure the survey was catered to bettering the lives of students, Mr. Wrinn consulted with four senior data science classes. In terms of what the survey questions would encompass and what information would be gathered, the seniors told Mr. Wrinn “what they would want to be able to share with the school, and also what they think faculty would want to know” so he was able to incorporate those types of questions into his survey.

The driving force behind this survey project is to create a full-circle picture of the student experience, so that departments know what to do to create the best school possible. “The idea is that in a couple years, the two surveys will link up,” explained Mr. Wrinn. “It’s kind of a cool way to measure what students need and want when they come in, and how those needs change over time, but also how the institution was able to support them through the process.”

Mr. Wrinn intends to share the results of the two surveys with the Choate community. “My hope is to share more with students, because I think we need to do a better job with that,” he said. “We do a lot of surveys here that you should hear back, not only what the results are, but what we’re doing about it.” Mr. Wrinn believes that it’s important that students recognize that the School values the time students take to complete these kinds of surveys. “That’s something I want to put more effort towards.”

Since becoming the school’s first Director of Institutional Research in 2015, Mr. Wrinn has come to be thought of as something of an in-house consultant. The primary aspect is surveying and collecting data. Last December, he oversaw a school-wide technology survey focused on Choate’s use of iPads and computers.

Mr. Wrinn will soon ask faculty to take a campus climate survey, geared toward enabling the best faculty experience, so that adults can do their jobs as best way as possible. Mr. Wrinn also works closely with the School’s admission office. This includes working with their data, such as the number of applications, admits, and students confirming and declining. “Almost all the surveys that we do come through me, and I look at everything,” he said.

The new student and senior surveys, as well as all the other survey work Mr. Wrinn does, is evaluated by a variety of adults, from different departments on campus. All surveys are conducted for a reason: to improve the work of Choate, and life at the School. Ms. Kathleen Wallace, Choate’s Associate Headmaster, cares about both the academic and social sides of survey information. Mr. James Stanley, Dean of Students, is also working with Mr. Wrinn, on examining Choate’ social life and researching how better to support students outside of the classroom.

“The idea is that I’ll get the results, I’ll put together some takeaways —what was surprising, either positively or negatively, and what the main, important parts were,” Mr. Wrinn said. “And I’ll share it with almost everybody.”

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