Reflections on the NY Times “engagement survey”.

The education supplement of the NY TIMES 1/3/10 included a report on the National Survey of Student Engagement in 1200 college and universities. The Times reported on about 100 (visit this page, scroll down and look for heading ‘Engagement’ in the center column).

The survey examines “engagement” in significant facets of university life: time spent in preparing for class, extracurricular activity and for purposes here “quality of relationship with faculty” (helpfulness and availability).

My analysis of the data indicates that the only institutions to score as low as UW Madison in the “quality of relationship with faculty” category were Cal State Poly, Howard Univ and NJ Inst. of Technology. Others in the low quintile were largely state university flagships: Univ. Minnesota, Twin Cities, Ann Arbor, UF Gainesville, U Mass, Amherst. All pretty bad but not quite as low as our score.

The second issue — which deserves more analysis than I have time for —  are the scores for students response as to whether would they enroll in the school again – definitely or probably. This is where it gets interesting.

It appears from just eyeballing the data that there is a negative correlation between quality of faculty contact and their perspective that they would “definitely” enroll again (would the customer buy the product or recommend it to a friend). Not only were “we” in the highest quintile of student satisfaction but we were again joined by our large state campuses: Florida, Ann Arbor, U Va, Minnesota- Twin Cities had scores as high or higher than UW. A few exceptions to be sure, but the association of low “quality of relationship” and high satisfaction was pretty stark.

I’m sure there are additional factors in the National Survey but the data given in the NYT on line was pretty amazing if for no other reason than as an example of a spurious association.


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One Response to Reflections on the NY Times “engagement survey”.

  1. Thanks for pointing this out. That’s very interesting.

    Of course, I can’t say I’m shocked. Twenty years ago I was attending UW-Madison, had no meaningful relationships with faculty and yet I loved my time on campus.

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