PD-1981-08

March 20, 1981

To: All Department Chairs
From: President Gail Fullerton
Subject: 1980 Graduating Senior Survey Results

Attached is the Final Report of the results of the 1980 graduating Senior Survey. Please share this information with your faculty.

GF:er Enclosure

cc:
Acting Academic Vice President Executive Vice President School Deans

Final Report
1980 Graduation Senior Survey

Introduction

In an effort to learn how graduating seniors perceive various aspects of their undergraduate experience at SJSU, a survey was administered to the 1980 graduating class. The survey Instrument was the same as that used by the Office of Undergraduate Studies at Stanford to survey Stanford graduates. The Stanford instrument was chosen for use at SJSU because it has been tested repeatedly and shown to be a valid instrument and because the data collected can be used for cross-comparison analysis between the two schools.

The rating scale section of the instrument is comprised of three parts. The first part asks the student to evaluate his/her undergraduate program from three different perspectives: 1) absolute, 2) relative to expectation and 3) the importance of the item. In the second part, the student is asked to assess his interactions with the faculty and staff using the same three divisions as part one. The third part of the survey provides rating scales for the student to use in ranking his/her ability in a broad range of topics. Again, the scales are divided into three areas: 1) absolute, 2) degree of improvement since entering SJSU and 3) importance of the item. As an example, each student can evaluate "the overall quality of their undergraduate education at SJSU" on an absolute scale, then rate the quality "relative to their expectation" and finally, judge the importance of this item in their own perspective.

Another section of the questionnaire elicits the student's views regarding outstanding or poor departmental and faculty performances and University services/programs. The written responses to this section are not made public. Only the School Deans, Department Chairpersons and certain academic officers have access to portions of the information.

The purpose of this report is to review the findings in three areas. The first part discusses the background of the procedures and the demographics of the senior class and the respondents. The next part provides a summary analysis of the sample response in total to the primary section of the survey; 1) evaluations of the undergraduate program, 2) interactions with faculty and staff, and 3) self-assessments of abilities (see Table 1). The final part of this report reviews the analysis of differences between respondents by sex and by majors in the various schools on campus.

Procedure

The 1980 Senior Survey was mailed to a total of 3538 graduating seniors (1,316 Fall '79 and 2,222 Spring '80). There were two potential flaws in the methodology used in conducting this survey. First, the coding scheme used was not able to differentiate between the two groups although the Fall graduating seniors received the survey six months following their graduation. In addition, 243 graduating Masters candidates were mistakenly sent the instrument during the mailing to the Fall graduates. The 846 returned survey forms (about twenty-four percent of those surveyed) were carefully screened and the twenty graduate student responses were excluded from the tabulation of the statistics. The procedure used for future surveys will be revised to correct these two possible weaknesses in the survey methodology.

Demographics

Although the respondents can in no way be considered a random sample, their characteristics were representative of the class as a whole. For example, of the senior population receiving the survey, 52% were females and 48% were males, whereas the respondents were 56% female and 44% male. As a further comparison, the survey distribution of majors in the various schools was as follows:

Respondents Distribution Graduates Distribution % of Graduates who responded
Applied Arts & Sciences 208 24.6% 867 25% 24%
Social Sciences 124 14.7% 503 14% 25%
Business 207 24.5% 870 25% 24%
Humanities and Arts 144 17.0% 579 16% 25%
Education 4 0.5% 27 1% 15%
Engineering 55 6.5% 321 9% 17%
Science 80 9.5% 297 8% 27%
Social Work 13 1.5% 47 1% 28%
Undergraduate Studies 6 0.7% 27 1% 22%
Total 846 99.5% 3538 100%

There were five (.5%) respondents with no major reported. As a final note, 78% of the respondents identified. themselves as transfers. Thus, since the total population was surveyed and descriptive characteristics of the respondents nearly matched those of the population, the results found in this survey are presumed to be representative of the entire graduating class.

As a final note on the background of the respondents, the following provides some detail of their future plans and information on where they resided while attending SJSU. More than half, 64%, report that they plan to work full time in the year immediately following graduation; of these 51% were women and 49% were men. The proportion of students planning full time study in the year immediately following graduation was 14%. As for their future education plans, 68% eventually plan to do postgraduate work. During their years as undergraduate students, 16% responded that they lived in the dorms, 3.7% lived in fraternity or sorority houses, 2.5% lived in off campus co-ops, 70.8% lived in an apartment or house, 33.2% lived with their parents and 4.6% had other living arrangements at one time or another.

Evaluation of the Undergraduate Program

The graduating seniors responded favorably to the overall quality of their undergraduate education at SJSU with an overwhelming majority of 69% rating it as "good" or "excellent" (Table 1). Half of the respondents felt that this quality was "about as expected." This response by the seniors has even more weight when one considers that 75% indicated that this quality was of "great" or "very great" importance to them.

In light of this favorable attitude shown by the respondents, it is not too surprising that at least 70% also rated the general quality of the courses as "good" or "excellent" and a large majority gave a similar response to the "coherence of the overall program of study." In fact, the only area in this section of the survey which the respondents fail to rate highly was the item, "contribution of the campus living arrangements to their life and training." Since SJSU is known as a "commuter" campus, it is not suprising that over half (57%) of the seniors responded "not applicable" or "no experience" to this item.

Interactions With Faculty and Staff

On the whole, the respondents were less favorable of their interactions with SJSU faculty and staff. Although the majority of seniors (56%) rated the faculty as "good" or "excellent" scholars and researchers and another 52% gave the same rating to the faculty as teachers, only a third (33%) responded similarly when asked of the opportunities for individual work with faculty. In fact, 26% of the seniors stated they had "no experience" with these. opportunities.

A resounding 74% response of "not applicable" or "no experience" to the item rating the undeclared advisor appears to reflect the high proportions (78%) of transfer students among the respondents. On the other hand, only slightly over a third (39%) rated their major advisor as "good" or "excellent" while another quarter (24%) replied "poor" or "very poor" to this item. With the exception of the TA (teaching assistant) item, the rating of the major advisor was the most negative item among the faculty and staff interactions, especially in light of the fact that 56% of the respondents felt that this was of "great" or "very great" importance to them.

Although the TA rating was not that favorable (only 15% rated it as "good" or "very good"), the majority (59%) responded "not applicable" or "no experience" to this item. This response can be partially explained by the fact that many respondents stated that they did not know what the abbreviation "TAs" meant. In the future, the survey instrument will spell out the term "Teaching Assistant" to avoid this confusion.

Finally, the respondents had a less favorable opinion of the effectiveness of the administrative procedures in their major department with less than a third (30%) rating it as "good" or "excellent." It should be noted also that nearly 40% rated this item as of "great" or "very great" importance.

Assessment Of Abilities

In the area of skills and abilities, as a whole, the graduating seniors rated themselves slightly better than average on most of the items given in the questionnaire. The areas with the largest negative responses were in foreign language, mathematical sciences, technology and applied science and the use of computers. In the remaining items, where in most cases the seniors rated themselves at least "average," the item "write English prose" had the best showing with 68% responding "good" or "excellent."

When asked to rate their "degree of improvement" since entering SJSU, the seniors responded that they had a "moderate" improvement in most items with the exception of "foreign language." In fact, nearly a quarter of the respondents have had "very slight" improvement in their use of a foreign language during their schooling at SJSU. It is noteworthy to mention that in the remaining three items where the seniors tended to rate themselves less positively, in at least a third of the cases, they responded that they had "moderate" to "very great" improvement in their use or understanding of mathematical sciences (44%), technology and applied sciences (47%) and use of computers (34%).

As can be observed in Table 1, the seniors tended to rate all of the skills and abilities items as of "moderate" or of "great" importance. Again,, they emphasized that not only was the ability to "write clear English prose" their best skill but additionally, 69% of the seniors responded that the item was of "great" or of "very great" importance to them.

Thus, this ability item was deemed the most important to the respondents since this was the area where the greatest number rated themselves highly and showed the best degree of improvement since entering SJSU.

Before we review the differences found between respondents by sex and by school majors, the response to the item, "understand significance of gender, ethnicity and social class" needs a comment. The questionnaire had a misprint on this item which confused many recipients. The error resulted in 48% of the respondents either not rating these three items or rating them incorrectly. These respondents are excluded in Table 1, which explains the small percentages found in the three scales. Even so, of those who answered the items correctly, the distribution of the responses closely matched those of the other items.

Differences By Area Of Study and Sex

The following sections of this report review two areas of special interest; comparisons of the responses by the majors grouped by schools and by women with those of the men.

Differences Among Schools

The majors were grouped by schools according to their classification as outlined in the current 1980/82 SJSU General Catalog of Undergraduate Studies. There are nine schools; Applied Arts and Sciences, Social Sciences, Business, Humanities and Arts, Education, Engineering, Science, Social Work and, finally, Undergraduate Studies. Three schools, Education, Social Work and Undergraduate Studies, had only 23 reported majors and will be grouped in next year's study as one school in order to simplify the analysis and table development processes.

There were several areas in which differences in the responses by school/major were easily recognizable. When one examines the areas of "Overall Program" and "Adequacy of Training," the majors in the technical areas of study (i.e., Science, Engineering, Business) tended to give better ratings than those of the less technical, or liberal art oriented fields such as the Humanities and Arts or Social Sciences. Conversely, the majors in the Social Sciences and Humanities and Arts responded more positively to the "Adequacy of General or Liberal Education" than the technical majors.

With regard to the rating of the faculty and administration, there were few surprises. Most majors rated their major advisor favorably except for the Business majors who responded more negatively than positively to this item (43% "poor" or "very poor" vs. 27% 'good" or "excellent"). It should be noted that the Business majors also rated this item of less "importance" than the other majors.

The Humanities and Arts and Social Science majors also gave better ratings to their "faculty as scholars" and "faculty as teachers" than to the majors in the Science and Engineering.

In the remaining items related to evaluation of the faculty and administration, the distributions of responses by major were similar with only a couple worthy of a specific comment. The Engineering majors gave the "poorest" rating to the item regarding "opportunities for individual work with faculty" while both Humanities and Arts majors and Engineering majors gave large negative ratings to the "effectiveness of the Administrative procedures in your major."

When the rating of current abilities are grouped by majors, we find some striking differences between those with technical training versus liberal arts training. For example, the Social Science majors gave the highest positive response 84%) to the ability to "write English prose" while only 60% of the Engineering majors gave a similar positive rating.

Not surprisingly, the Science and Engineering majors gave higher scores to their abilities in understanding the "Mathematical Sciences," "Natural Sciences," and "Technology and Applied Sciences" than those in the other schools. On the other hand, the Social Science majors gave a better rating to the items, "understand the working of government" and to "make Judgments about international problems."

Finally, as one might expect, the Applied Arts and Science, Social Science and Humanities and Arts major had far less experience in the use of computers than those who majored in the technical fields.

Diffference By Sex

In the rating of their undergraduate program, there were few significant differences found between the responses of men and women. However, there are noteworthy contrasts where women rated the "importance" of the item "adequacy of Education for entering your chosen field much higher than men (56% women rated this its "very great' as compared to only 42% similar ratings for men) and men rated the 'overall quality of undergraduate education at SJSU' slightly more favorably than women (76% 'excellent" or "good" vs 69% "excellent" or 'good" respectively).

In their evaluation of the "interactions with faculty and staff," both men and women rated the items in a similar manner. Even so, women tended to rate certain items as slightly more important than did the men. For example, 51% of the women feel it's of "very great" importance for the faculty to be good teachers as compared to only 38% of the men responding in a similar manner. This point spread between the ratings of the men and women was, in general, the case for most of the items in the "importance" scale.

In rating their abilities, the women responded more positively than men in the items relating to the humanities and fine arts, such as "foreign language" or the "understanding of literature and fine arts." On the other hand men tended to rate themselves several points above those of women in the social and physical science related items. As an example, 28% of the women responded "excellent" to their ability to "write clear English prose" as compared to 17% of the men having a similar rating. Furthermore, 18% of the men rated their understanding of the "mathematical sciences" as "excellent" with only 6% of the women responding accordingly. Those phenomena can be partially explained by the fact that there still exists an uneven distribution of the sexes among the various majors. It can be expected that since males still comprise the overwhelming majority in majors such as Engineering and Math, they should have a larger percentage of their group rating themselves more favorably in the items related to these majors.

Finally, a similar pattern was found in the rating of the importance of an item by men and women. Where the men and women assessed their abilities more favorably, they also rated the item of more importance.

As a last note in the area of sex differences, it should be mentioned that there was a considerable gap between men and women's concern for the significance of gender, ethnicity and social class. The survey revealed a 5 to 17 point difference in their rating of these items within the three scales, particularly for the item regarding the significance of gender in understanding how the U.S. society functions.

Summary

The assessment of the graduating seniors of their overall undergraduate education at SJSU was on the positive side. In particular, they regarded the "general quality of the course work" and the "coherence of the overall program" as better than average.

The seniors responded less favorably to their interaction with the faculty and staff. They did give a good rating to the faculty as teachers and scholars but rated the remaining items, especially the major advisors, as "average" or below. This rating was in contrast to the "importance" that the respondents placed on the items. In fact, the students attached a high importance to all the items covered in this survey.

In the area of skills and abilities, the seniors rated themselves "average" or better. On the whole, their weakest areas were in the use of a foreign language and their understanding of the mathematical, technical and applied sciences. At least, in most cases, the students rated their "degree of improvement" in these areas as "moderate" or better while attending SJSU.

Among the differences noted between the respondents when grouped by school majors were several prominent observations. Those who majored in the "technical" majors gave better rating to their "overall program" and "adequacy of training" than the non-technical, liberal arts type majors. Majors from the Humanities and Arts and Social Sciences gave better ratings to their "faculty as scholars" and "faculty as teachers" than those who majored in the technical areas. In the rating of their abilities, the technical majors tended to rate themselves highly in their technical abilities. By contrast the liberal arts majors rated themselves more favorably in most of the nontechnical related areas covered in the survey.

There were few notable differences found when comparing the responses grouped by sex. In general, women placed more importance on the items than men. Not suprisingly women often rated their abilities in areas of the humanities and arts more positively than men. Conversely, men rated their skills in the technical subjects more favorably than did the women.

The information gleaned from this survey will be of considerable benefit to the campus planners and administrators. This instrument provides feedback from the graduating seniors regarding their attitudes and concerns. It will also provide important planning information which can be used in adjusting academic resources to meet the current demands of the student population. Overall, the information contained in these surveys should add to the foundation of better education at San José State University.

March 11, 1981

To: President Gail Fullerton
From:Patricia A. Stadel, Director, Information Systems and Computing
Subject: Public Release of 1980 Graduating Senior Survey Results

Attached is a copy of the final report of the 1980 Graduating Senior Survey which we had planned to release to the Spartan Daily and the Alumni Association.

Per your earlier instructions, copies of this report were distributed to the Executive Committee of the Senate and the Council of Deans. Although their reactions and/or comments were solicited, a response was received only from Vera Vadas, Jr. Staff Analyst, School of Business. According to Jack Williams, Ms. Vadas recommended:

  1. instructions be included on the essay portion of the survey (the middle, "loose" sheet) so that the students' responses would be more concise and easier for an analyst or administrator to interpret (a copy of her suggestions in this regard is attached);
  2. that we tailor the survey instrument to ask other kinds of questions, such as age, work, whether they were day or night students, etc., even though this would make it incompatible with the Stanford instrument and confound cross-institutional comparisons;
  3. that the depth of the analysis included in the general report distributed to the campus administrators be increased.

Since we have received no objections to the content of the report itself, I suggest that you go ahead and release it in the manner you deem most appropriate.

cc:
Jack Williams, Research Analyst

To: Mr. Jack L. Williams
Via: Dr. George C. Halverson, Dean, School of Business
From: Vera Vadas Junior Staff Analyst

I am in the process of analyzing graduating seniors` written responses to the request that they name particularly outstanding or poor professors (departments, or programs), and have run into some problems (mentioned below). I believe these problems could be easily eliminated by adding the following guidelines to the written instructions:

- Please, indicate the full name of the professor. (Reason: it is impossible to guess which "Dr. Jones" the student had in mind when there are several professors/instructors with the same surname in a School/Department.)
- Give a brief description why you think this professor was particularly good or bad. (Reason: many "answers" consisted only of a surname with no indication of judgment criteria. In evaluating faculty performance it is important to know if a student has a bad opinion of a professor because he/she found exam questions difficult, or because the professor was consistently late for class.)
- Please, write legibly (Reason: obvious.)

Since these instructional additions would not affect the survey format in any way, I hope there will be no difficulty in including them in the next mailing (for 1981 Spring graduates).

VV:nb

August 14, 1980

To: Robert Sasseen, Associate Academic Vice President
From: Patricia A. Stadel, Director Information Systems and Computing
Subject: Confidential Materials - 1980 Senior Survey

As you may be aware, President Fullerton conducted a survey of undergraduates who had graduated during academic year 1979/80 (ref. P80-7, dated May 30, 1980). Pages three and four of that survey asked the graduates for information about faculty, departments, and programs that is considered confidential and has been treated as such by my office as each questionnaire is received. Attached is the first batch of these evaluations received from participants in the 1980 senior survey which I understand your office has agreed to handle.

Also attached is a copy of the survey instrument itself. You may be interested to know that Stanford University (originator of the survey concept) assembles copies of the evaluation materials by individual faculty member, department, program, etc., and provides "sets" to appropriate individuals. The back-up materials are retained in the Dean's Office for reference, but no other use is made of them. By contrast, copies of the students' responses to Item F (page four) are made available to the President, Vice Presidents, and top administrative heads, and are often used as source materials for speeches, presentations, etc.

It is reported that these documents will provide "excellent bedtime reading." We will continue to forward batches of these materials to you as we receive additional responses from the students. If you have any questions, please call.

PAS:ksh

cc:
Hobert Burns, Academic Vice President (survey attached)
Gail Fullerton, President (w/o attachment)