Results of a Recent User Survey

  1. Introduction
  2. Importance and Satisfaction Levels of Computer Services
  3. About Network Services
  4. About Host Computers
  5. About Microcomputer Laboratories
  6. About User Support
  7. Conclusion


1. Introduction

A campus-wide user survey was conducted in January of 1997 by the HKU Computer Centre to assess the service requirements and satisfaction levels of the computer services provided by the Centre. This is a report of the results and findings of the user survey.

A total of 1679 questionnaires were sent to the University's staff members. 207 of these were completed and returned, giving a response rate of 12%. An electronic form of this survey was also launched on the University's intranet and an announcement was made in the Computer News inviting people to participate. 48 people filled out the electronic form, making a total of 255 respondents in this survey.

Of the 255 respondents, 49% were teaching staff, 35% were non-teaching staff and 16% were students. Thus the results of this survey reflect more on the views of staff members of the University. We intend to conduct another survey of students in the future.

The first part of the questionnaire was on assessing the importance to our users of the overall services and their satisfaction levels using a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 meaning least important/satisfied and 5 meaning most important/satisfied.

The second section of the questionnaire was on detailed information on each service. Users' suggestions for improvement were classified and listed in a separate document. Click this hyperlink to view the users' suggestions.


2. Importance and Satisfaction Levels of Computer Services

For importance and satisfaction of each service, counts of people who responded with scores of 3-5 were added together. This count was then expressed as a percentage of the total respondents. For example, for e-mail, 94% of the respondents thought it was an important service and 86% were satisfied with this service.

The services were ranked by their importance to our users and compared with their user satisfaction levels in the table below. The comparisons are also represented graphically in Figure 1 below.

Service Importance Satisfaction
E-mail 94% 86%
WWW 92% 78%
Access to library services 87% 78%
HKUWin 82% 75%
Help Desk 73% 55%
Connection to PC server 72% 66%
PPP Dialup 71% 40%
User documentation/training 70% 52%
General Office counter service 63% 58%
Computations 46% 48%
Microcomputer laboratories 40% 34%

Of the 11 facilities and services studied, e-mail was rated as the most important and the most satisfactory service. Incidentally, the microcomputer laboratories were rated as the least important service and the least satisfactory. This is perhaps due to the fact that 84% of respondents were staff members.


3. About Network Services

The network services include E-mail, WWW, PPP dialup service and other services within HKUWIN (Telnet, FTP, UIS, CWIS, News).

Users were asked with what locations they communicate via e-mail and how many messages they receive in a week, what is their main purpose for using the WWW, how many times they have to try before they can succeed in connecting with the campus network via the dialup service during peak hours, and how many news groups they subscribe to with the News service.

Results of the analysis of network services are presented in the figures below.


4. About Host Computers

About host computers, users were asked which computer(s) they use most and how often, if the process for host account creation was easy, if the software on the host computers are adequate for their needs, and if the turnaround time for running their jobs is satisfactory.

Results of the analysis of host computer services are presented in the figures below.


5. About Microcomputer Laboratories

Microcomputers include both the PC and the Macintosh. Respondents were asked how long they have to wait for a PC/Mac in the laboratories before one is available, how often they encounter a PC/Mac that is out of order, and whether the software provided are adequate to meet their needs for their daily work.

Teachers were also asked if the software provided in the student labs were adequate for their teaching needs, if they are satisfied with the room-booking service and if the networking service in these labs is adequate for their teaching needs. Only 33 of the 125 teaching staff responded to these questions, making the response rate 26%. Most of the teachers who use the centrally time-tabled classrooms with network connection use them less than 3 times in a year.

Results of analysis of the microcomputer laboratories are presented in the figures below.


6. About User Support

User support services include consultation services (Help Desk, CC Box, the electronic user forum and the General Office counter service), user documentation (handbooks, user guides and the Computer News), and user training.

The Help Desk and CC Box (the electronic help service via e-mail) were assessed on the timeliness of response to users' enquiries, their ability to solve users' problems and the staff's attitude. The General Office is another venue for user enquiries and is also assessed here.

The electronic user forum (hku.cc.forum) is a newsgroup forum where users exchange tips and solutions to help each other out, and if a solution cannot be provided by another user, a computer officer will provide the solution on a weekly basis. Users were asked if the information they find in the forum is useful to them.

Results of these four services are presented in the figures below.

User documentation include all handbooks and user guides published by Computer Centre including the Computer News. Users were asked about the completeness and usefulness of information contained in these documentation. User documentation is available in paper form from the general office and also in electronic form on the Web for easy access by users from anywhere in the campus. We assessed our users' awareness of the electronic version and found that almost one third of them never browse the user documentation on the web.

Results of analysis of user documentation are presented in the figures below.

More than half of the respondents had never attended any of our training courses. For those who had attended our training courses, the majority of them found the courses to be adequate in helping them use the computing facilities. Survey results of our training services are presented in the figures below.

Our hardware maintenance service was also assessed. Users were asked to rate the response time and the charging scheme of this service. Survey results of our hardware maintenance services are shown below.


7. Conclusion

From the analysis of the feedback from our users, the greatest need in academic computing is in the area of information services and communications with the outside world. There is also a great demand for the dialup service. This means that we must focus our efforts on providing and ensuring a fast and reliable network infrastructure. We would like to inform our users that we are working on a major improvement in these areas.

In the area of user services, not only more training courses will be offered but also more training topics will be available. Additional user documentation will be developed while existing ones will be reviewed and updated. With the technology moving towards paper-less and electronic documentation, more of our documentation will be put online on the web for searching and browsing by users.

The above are some of the areas that Computer Centre will improve on based on our users' feedback. Some of the suggested items for improvement have already been implemented or are in the process of being developed, for example, some of the suggested training courses are already on-going and the self-taught training presentations have been launched on the web.

We will continue our efforts in seeking additional support from the University to implement the highly demanded facility enhancements and service improvements which have major resources implications.

We thank all the respondents for taking the time to answer the questionnaire and giving us your feedback. Your feedback has re-confirmed our own assessment of the many areas which need improvement, and has also given us encouragement in knowing the areas in which we are doing well.

This survey has gathered valuable input from mostly staff members of the University. Computer Centre plans to perform a similar survey later in the year to obtain input from students about the Centre's computing services. Then we will have a more comprehensive picture of the computing needs of our users to help us better plan and implement new and existing computing facilities and services to support the teaching, learning and research activities in the University. We look forward to the students' participation in the forthcoming computing facilities and services survey.


Mabel Chau
Tel:2859-8934
E-mail:chaumabc@hku.hk


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