2002 HEDS Senior Survey Report

Prepared May, 2003, by Mary Ann Weaver

Introduction

In the Spring of 2002, all seniors were asked to complete a survey.  The survey instrument used was designed by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS).  The report provided by HEDS gives comparative data from our peer institutions.  (See Appendix  for a list of schools included in the peer group.)  When the seniors met for commencement rehearsal, they were handed a survey and asked to complete it.  Two hundred and twelve of the 255 graduating seniors completed the survey (83%) which is a greater number than in previous years.  In this report, we describe various characteristics of our students as they are preparing to move beyond Earlham.  This research summarizes such aspects as the students' family backgrounds, the types of activities in which they participated while at Earlham and their satisfaction with their undergraduate experience.  In addition to this, the survey also looks at their future plans and priorities.  The survey attempts to make longitudinal comparisons of many of these students’ self-reported attitudes, values, and perceptions with those of the seniors of 2000.

It is interesting to note that in 1998, the first year at Earlham for this student sample, a CIRP survey was completed during New Student Week by 307 of these students.   Only 60% of the respondents stated there was a very good chance of being satisfied with Earlham and 36% stated there was only some chance they would be satisfied.

Click here for links to the tables contained in this report.

Characteristics of the Sample

Of the group of seniors who responded, 44% were male and 56% were female.  A total of 77% of the fathers and 75% of the mothers of these students had at least a college degree and 50% of mothers and 53% of fathers had a graduate degree.  In this sample 8% of the mothers as well as 18% of the fathers had completed a doctorate degree.

Several questions were asked of these seniors about their activities during their time at Earlham.  Table 1 assesses some of the student's activities during college.  As in the past, a much greater percentage of these students spent a semester or year abroad compared to our peer group.  There were also more Earlham students who traveled abroad in the summer than at the peer institutions.   The percentage of the 2002 seniors who completed independent studies was less than the percentage of 2000 seniors who did the same.

Table 1

Percentages of Seniors Who Participated in Different Academic Activities

Activities During College

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Semester or Year Abroad

79%

70.3%

44.4%

Independent Study

64%

43.9%

41.6%

Off-Campus Internship

53%

42.5%

41.8%

Summer Travel Abroad

27%

27.8%

15.9%

Summer Paid Internship

29%

24.5%

28.1%

Leadership Training

22%

21.2%

22.4%

Apply for Grant or Fellowship

29%

17.5%

19.8%

Gender Studies Program

25%

15.1%

12.8%

Racial/Cultural Awareness Program

25%

14.6%

14.0%

Residence Hall Assistantship

24%

14.6%

10.1%

Sexual Harassment Program

18%

12.3%

7.3%

Honor Society

16%

10.8%

24.5%

 

The seniors were asked in which years during college did they actively participate in various activities.  Table 2 shows the percentage of students who actively participated for one year and the percentage who actively participated for more than one year.  In addition, the third column shows the percentage increase or decrease in participation from their first to fourth years in college.  The fourth column compares the increase or decrease to that of the seniors in 2000.

The activity in which the greatest percentage of students  participated for more than one year was volunteer service.  However the percentage rate of volunteer service from first year to senior year decreased.  It is understandable why the level of activity that increased the greatest from first to senior year was faculty research.  Campus media and student government also increased singificantly from first to senior year, while participation in political clubs and intercollegiate sports decreased.  


Table 2

Percentages of Seniors Who Actively Participated in Each Activity

Activity

Participated for one year

Participated for more than one year

Percent Increase or Decrease from first to fourth year

Seniors in 2002

Percent Increase or Decrease from first to fourth year

Seniors in 2000

Literary Magazine

5.2

2.4

+6.3

+28%

Faculty Research

13.7

5.2

+62.5

+52%

Student Government

8

13

+14.3

+18%

Social Action Group

12.7

20.3

-2.9

-22%

Political Club

9

28

-24.4

-40%

Performing Arts

19

67

+7

-16%

Cultural Group

3.8

9.9

+13.8

+7%

Volunteer Service

11.8

36.8

-5.8

-23%

Religious Group

23

28

-5.9

-23%

Campus Media

4.2

6.1

+27.2

+21%

Intercollegiate Athletics

9

25.9

-16.2

-17%

Intramural Athletics

9

27.8

-1.3

+32%

Student Newspaper

9.4

5.7

+6.2%

+39%

Table 3 illustrates the frequency of the following academic, cultural, and religious activities throughout the seniors' undergraduate career compared to our peer group.

Table 3

Frequency of Activities

                                               Activity

Earlham 2002

Peer Group

Academic Discussions with Students

3.3

3.1

Class Presentations

3.2

3.0

Group Projects

3.0

2.9

Discussions with Students of Different Beliefs

3.0

2.9

Cultural Events

2.9

2.6

Guest in Faculty Member's Home

2.3

1.9

Multimedia Presentations

2.2

2.2

Religious Services

1.6

1.7

Organized Demonstrations

1.6

1.5

4=Very often, 3=Often, 2=Occasionally, 1=Never

Earlham seniors were more likely to be a guest in a faculty member’s home or to attend a cultural event than seniors at our peer institutions.

Table 4 shows some abilities and types of knowledge that may be developed in a bachelor's degree program.  The seniors indicated the extent to which each capacity was enhanced by their undergraduate experiences.

It appears that Earlham seniors feel their ability to relate to people of different races, nations, or religions has been enhanced somewhat more than seniors from our peer institutions.  Most other abilities were enhanced to about the same degree as the peer group and the Earlham seniors of 2000.


Table 4

Enhancement of Abilities

Enhancement of Abilities

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Gain In-depth Knowledge of a Subject

3.5

3.5

3.5

Acquire New Skills and Knowledge

3.5

3.5

3.4

Work Under Pressure

3.4

3.4

3.5

Write Effectively

3.4

3.4

3.4

Understand Myself

3.5

3.3

3.4

Function Independently

3.4

3.3

3.4

Think Analytically and Logically

3.4

3.3

3.4

Develop Awareness of Social Problems

3.4

3.2

3.1

Formulate Creative Ideas and Solutions

3.2

3.2

3.2

Understand Moral and Ethical Issues

3.3

3.2

3.0

Place Problems in Historical Perspective

3.3

3.2

3.0

Relate to people of Different Races,Nations, or Religions

3.1

3.2

2.9

Plan and Execute Projects

3.3

3.1

3.2

Establish Course of Action

3.2

3.1

3.2

Engage in Pursuit of Knowledge and Truth

3.3

3.1

3.1

Communicate Well Orally

3.1

3.1

3.1

Function Effectively as a Team Member

3.2

3.1

3.1

Evaluate and Choose Alternatives

3.1

3.0

3.0

Appreciate Art

3.0

2.9

2.9

Lead and Supervise Groups

3.1

2.9

2.9

Develop Self-Esteem

3.1

2.9

3.0

Use Technology

2.7

2.7

2.8

Evaluate Role of Science and Technology in Society

2.8

2.7

2.6

Understand Process of Science

2.8

2.7

2.6

Read or Speak Foreign Language

2.8

2.5

2.3

Use Quantitative Tools

2.5

2.5

2.7

Scale: 4=Greatly, 3=Moderately, 2=A Little, 1=Not at all

Table 5 refers to the quality of the seniors' academic experiences while they attended Earlham.  The Earlham seniors were most satisfied with their interaction with faculty and least satisfied with their first-year advising.  They were much more satisfied with the quality of advising once they declared a major and were assigned an advisor from that particular field of study.  Earlham’s level of satisfaction is similar to that of our peer group in most areas. 

Table 5

Quality of Academic Experiences

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Student Interaction with Faculty

3.6

3.5

Faculty Availability Outside of Class

3.5

3.6

Internship or Study Off-Campus or Abroad

3.5

3.4

Major Advising

3.3

3.2

Independent Study

3.3

3.3

Tutorial Help or Other Academic Assistance

3.0

3.1

Availability of Courses

3.0

2.8

First Year Advising

2.8

2.7

Table 6 shows how the seniors rated the quality of course instruction during their undergraduate experience at Earlham. The Earlham seniors indicated  their greatest satisfaction with the quality of the course instruction in the Social Sciences. 

Table 6

Quality of Course Instruction

Mean

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Social Sciences

3.3

3.4

Humanities and Arts

3.1

3.4

Science and Math

3.1

3.1

Business

2.8

3.1

Engineering

2.7

2.9

Scale:  4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Table 7 shows the seniors' overall mean satisfaction with their undergraduate education at Earlham.  Their level of satisfaction was the same as the Earlham seniors in 2000 and similar to the level of satisfaction of seniors at our peer institutions.

Table 7

Overall Satisfaction with Undergraduate Experience

Mean

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Overall Satisfaction

3.4

3.4

3.3

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Table 8 demonstrates the seniors' satisfaction with the quality of campus services and facilities. The seniors rated the quality of Earlham’s recreation/athletic facilities higher than the peer group which may be an indication of the success of our Wellness Center.  The level of quality of the counseling services was rated much higher by the seniors in 2002 than the seniors in 2000.

Table 8

Quality of Campus Services and Facilities

Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean
Earlham 2000
Earlham 2002
Peer Group 2002
Library Services
3.6
3.4
3.3
Recreation/Athletics Facilities
3.4
3.4
3.0
Library Facilities and Resources
3.4
3.3
3.2
Registrar's Office
3.4
3.3
3.0
Computer Facilities and Resources
3.1
3.1
3.1
Recreation/Athleitcs Programs
3.1
3.1
3.1
Classroom/Laboratory Facilities
3.0
3.0
3.2
Financial Aid Package
3.1
2.9
3.0
Financial Aid Office
3.2
2.9
2.9
Computer Services and Support
2.8
2.9
3.0
Student Financial Services
3.1
2.9
2.9
Career Services
3.0
2.9
2.9
Student Health Services
2.9
2.9
2.8
Student Housing
2.9
2.8
2.8

Seniors were asked to rate the quality of campus life.  Table 9 shows that the 2002 seniors were more satisfied with the ethnic/racial diversity on campus than the 2000 Earlham seniors and the seniors from our peer institutions.  Although their satisfaction with the religious/spiritual life on Earlham’s campus is similar to the level of satisfaction of seniors from our peer institutions, the 2002 Earlham seniors were less satisfied with this aspect of campus life than the 2000 seniors.

Table 9

Quality of Campus Life
Scale: 4=Very Satisfied, 3=Generally Satisfied, 2=Generally Dissatisfied, 1=Very Dissatisfied

Mean

Earlham 2000

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Campus Safety

3.5

3.2

2.9

Lectures and Speakers

3.2

3.0

3.2

Sense of Community on Campus

3.2

3.0

2.7

Cultural and Fine Arts Programming

2.8

2.9

3.0

Social Life on Campus

3.0

2.9

2.7

Student Government

2.9

2.9

2.7

Religious/Spiritual Life

3.4

2.9

2.9

Student Voice in Policies

2.8

2.8

2.5

Ethnic/Racial Diversity

2.5

2.8

2.4

Climate for Minority Students on Campus

2.4

2.6

2.5

Table 10 shows a comparison of where Earlham seniors had lived during their four years at Earlham.  Their first year, the majority (97.4%) lived in dormitories, while only .5% lived with their parents or relatives.  As the seniors progressed through their college education, there was a significant decrease in the number that lived in a dormitory.  As the numbers of those who lived in the dorms decreased, the number of those who lived in an off-campus apartment increased.  By their senior year only 34% of seniors lived in the residence halls, as compared to 30% in an off-campus apartment or room.


Table 10

 

 

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year

Residence Hall

97.4%

70.3%

46%

34.0%

With Parents or Relatives

.5%

.5%

1.1%

1.5%

Interest Housing or Other Campus Housing

.5%

27.2%

41.8%

34.5%

Off-campus Apartment or Room

1.5%

2.1%

9.0%

30.0%

   

Table 11 represents the careers that seniors desired when they first entered Earlham, the first job they plan to have after graduation, and the long term career goal that they have in mind.  When most seniors first entered college as freshmen, many of them were undecided what they wanted to pursue.  There was a greater number of those who wanted to pursue medical doctor or social service positions their freshman year, as compared to their long-term goals. There was also a reduction in interest of biological/life science careers from 10.9% desiring a career in this field when they entered college to 5.1% indicating a career in that area as a long term goal.  The same was true in the social science or service area where 10.4% indicated a desire for a career in that field when they entered Earlham but now 6.4% indicated social service as a long term career goal.   8.6% of the seniors indicated a long-term goal of a career teaching or doing research at a college, whereas only 2.1% had an interest in such a career when they entered college.  The table shows that a large group remained undecided as to their long term career goal (9.6%).

 

Table 11

Fields in Which College Graduates are Frequently Employed

Career

Career desired when entered college 

First job upon graduation

Long term career goal

 

%

%

%

Accounting

0

0

0

Advertising, Public Relations

.5

1.1

.5

Architecture, Design, or Planning

.5

.6

0

Arts/Entertainment

9.3

7.9

11.8

Biology/Life Science

10.9

5.1

5.9

Broadcasting, Media Productions

.5

0

1.6

Business Owner, Proprietor, Entrepreneur

1.6

1.1

2.1

College/Univ. Teaching/Research

2.1

1.1

8.6

College/University Administration

0

1.7

0

Computer Programming, Science, or Technology

2.1

2.8

2.7

Education, Teaching Administration

11.9

16.9

13.9

Engineering

1.6

0

0

Environ. Science, Natural Resources

2.6

6.8

4.8

Finance

1.0

.6

.5

Foreign Service, Intl Relations

3.1

4.0

3.2

Government, Politics, Public Policy

1.6

2.3

2.7

Homemaker

0

0

.85

Hospitality, Travel, Tourism

0

0

0

Law

4.1

.6

5.3

Library, Information Science

0

.6

1.1

Management

.5

0

0

Marketing, Sales

0

1.1

1.1

Mathematics, Stats

0

.6

0

Medical Doctor

7.3

.6

3.7

Medicine, Health Care, Other

4.7

2.3

2.7

Military Science

1.0

.6

7.5

Physical Sciences

2.6

.6

.5

Publishing, Print Journalism

2.1

3.4

1.6

Religious Ministry or Service

1.0

1.1

.5

Retail

0

3.4

0

Social Science or Services

10.4

10.2

6.4

Sports, Recreation

.5

2.3

1.1

Undecided

11.9

11.3

9.6

Other

4.7

9.6

.5


Table 12 takes a look at some of the important career considerations that the seniors reflected upon as they decided what career they wanted to pursue.  Many seniors had more intellectual rather than individualistic attitudes when it came to which career considerations were more important.  Topping the list is interesting daily work, use of creativity and initiative, intellectual challenge, quality of colleagues and clients and expressions of personal values.  Seeking a stable, secure future and leadership and social status are slightly less important to the Earlham seniors than to seniors from our peer group. As in the past, Earlham seniors are more interested in working for social change and less interested in a high income potential than seniors from our peer group.

Table 12

Important Career Considerations

Earlham 2002

Peer Group 2002

Interesting Daily Work

3.3

3.4

Creativity and Initiative

3.3

3.2

Intellectual Challenge

3.2

3.2

Quality of Colleagues and Clients

3.2

3.1

Expression of Personal Values

3.2

3.1

Work for Social Change

2.9

2.6

Stable, Secure Future

2.8

3.2

Availability of Jobs

2.7

2.7

Leadership Potential

2.5

2.8

High Income Potential

2.1

2.5

Limited Working Hours

2.0

2.0

Social Recognition or Status

1.8

2.0

Scale: 4=Essential, 3=Very Important, 2=Somewhat Important, 1=Not Important

Earlham was able to include supplemental questions to the predetermined HEDS survey. The results of these questions comprise Tables 13 and 14. Table 13 contains senior's opinions on the extent to which Earlham reached particular goals. A lower mean score indicates a higher level of satisfaction.

The seniors of 2002 felt Earlham had best given them the skills to gather and evaluate information from many sources(2.10) and the desire and skills to become a lifelong learner (2.10). They felt Earlham least met the goals of proficiency in at least one non-native language (2.96) and an understanding of the formal dynamics of works of art (2.99).

Table 13

The extent to which Earlham reached particular goals

Goals

Mean

Skills to gather and evaluate information from many sources, including print and electronic media.

2.10

A desire and the skills to be lifelong learner.

2.10

Reading, reflection, writing, and oral communication.

2.16

The ability to interpret a work, idea, text, or culture from different perspectives.

2.20

A grasp of the habits of thought and intellectual methods of different disciplines

2.26

Personal creativity and confidence in one's ideas.

2.31

A sense of responsibility that comes with knowledge.

2.31

Experience in engaging interdisciplinary and integrative inquiries.

2.31

An awareness of one's self as a biological organism, a political and social being, a maker of art, and a reflective and thoughtful moral agent.

2.33

Skills in group and cooperative learning.

2.38

Experience contextualizing disciplinary studies.

2.43

A global awareness and solid knowledge of other cultures.

2.52

An understanding of the scientific method and its application in laboratory settings.

2.65

Proficiency in at least one non-native language.

2.96

An understanding of the formal dynamics of works of art.

2.99

     Scale: 1= As much as possible, 2= Quite a bit, 3= Moderately, 4= Somewhat, 5= Not at all 

In order to determine the effect of their Earlham experience, seniors were asked how likely they were to participate in various activities in the future. Table 14 shows the mean scores of their responses which indicate that these seior probably would travel abroad in the future but they are not as likely  to actively work on spiritual growth.

Table 14

Activity

Mean

Travel abroad

4.07

Regularly attend cultural/artistic events.

3.89

Vote in a local election

3.85

Keep up with new developments and events in science.

3.59

Actively work on personal spiritual growth.

3.41

Scale: 1= Definitely not, 2= Probably not, 3= Maybe, 4= Probably would, 5= Definitely would

Conclusions

These data provide us with one perspective on the characteristics and experiences of our graduating seniors.  The sample appears to represent a fairly good cross-section of the total senior class.  Nevertheless, this research embodies all of the usual limitations of the survey approach.  In that sense, it is probably most appropriate to view these data as raising questions rather than providing answers.  Those questions might include the following: How can we increase our students’ understanding of the formal dynamics of a work of art? How can we increase our students’ proficiency in at least one non-native language? Why was their a smaller percentage of students whose long term career goal was in the biological/life sciences or social services compared to the career desired when they first entered Earlham? Why were these students less satisfied than the seniors of 2000 with the religious/spiritual life on campus and only indicated a slight possiblity of actively working on personal spiritual growth in the future?

We notice some differences between the seniors of 2000 and the seniors of 2002.  There was a slightly higher percentage of seniors in 2000 who spent a semester or year abroad, participated in a gender studies or racial/cultural awareness program, and applied for a grant or fellowship.  However we should be cautious in interpreting these results since these differences may in some part be the result of a broader sample of students in 2002.  We had responses from 45% of the seniors in 2000 whereas in 2002 83% completed the survey. 

Also, the method of administering the surveys in these two years was different. In 2002 the seniors were asked to complete the survey just prior to commencement rehearsal. This meant many seniors were completing the survey who would not ordinarily do so. This may account for somewhat more negative responses such as the slight decrease in satisfaction of the library services.

This survey will be useful for assessment purposes as it indicates the level to which students’ abilities were enhanced and helps to determine what they consider to be important in their lives as a result of their Earlham experience.  It also portrays Earlham as being superior to or at least equal to our peer groups in most areas.  The supplemental questions directly address the extent to which we are meeting our general education goals.

In addition to offering us insights into our seniors’ lives and a source of information about the quality of their undergraduate education, we also hope that completing this survey gives seniors an opportunity to reflect upon their life as an Earlham student as well as their future lives as Earlham alumni.


Appendix

PEER GROUP
Albright College
Colby College
Colgate College
Connecticut College
Dickinson College
Franklin & Marshall
Gettysburg College
Gustavus Adolphus College
Hamilton College
Hampshire College
Hartwick College
Hobart & Wm Smith
Kalamazoo College
Lewis & Clark College
Mills College
Muhlenberg College
Occidental College
Pitzer College
Randolph-Macon Woman's
Reed College
St Olaf College
Scripps College
Spring Hill College
Union College
Washington and Jefferson College
Washington College
Whitman College
Whittier College 

 

Tables in the Senior 2002 Report

Table 1 Percentage of Seniors Who Participated in Different Academic Activities
Table 2 Percentage of Seniors who Actively Participated in Each Campus Activity
Table 3 Frequency of Participation in Campus Activities
Table 4 Enhancement of Abilities
Table 5 Quality of Academic Experiences
Table 6 Quality of Course Instruction
Table 7 Overall Satisfaction with Undergraduate Experience
Table 8 Quality of Campus Services and Facilities
Table 9 Quality of Campus Life
Table 10 Residence while at Earlham
Table 11 Careers desired, first job, long term career goals
Table 12 Important Career Considerations
Table 13 The extent to which Earlham reached particular goals
Table 14 Likelihood of participation in various activities in the future

 

Created by Mary Ann Weaver
weavema@earlham.edu
May 9, 2003