Ethnography Project: Sophomore Experience Survey
June 26, 2011 § 2 Comments
In the last week I have been collecting the answers to an electronic survey I sent out to a number of Duke students ranging from the class of 2010 (graduated a year ago) to the class of 2013 (just completed their sophomore year) about their experience sophomore year. I sent out the survey last Saturday after receiving the suggestion while presenting my progress on my project, and I closed it yesterday, after a week.
Part of the survey was adapted from a large-scale 2007 Sophomore Experiences Survey discussed by Laurie Schreiner in “Factors That Contribute to Sophomore Success and Satisfaction.” This survey collected responses from 2,856 sophomores at twenty-six four-year institutions. While Schreiner addresses the reasons limitations for generalizing the findings to all sophomores across all institutions, I thought that this would be a good starting point for describing the Duke sophomore experience.
However I did not use the entire survey, nor did I use only this survey. I selected the questions I thought were most relevant, added some Duke specific questions, and added some text box follow up questions which I thought was appropriate given my smaller sample size.
While I recognize that a survey is less than ideal, and personal interaction and observation is preferable, I think that it will have been helpful to me in expanding my subject pool and increasing my access to the thoughts of a variety of people. In addition, I asked respondents who were willing to provide me with contact information—email—to meet me for follow up questions individually or in focus groups. I did not get as many volunteers as I may have hoped for this week, but I also recognize that those who were unwilling to meet may have been deterred by the lack of anonymity.
When constructing my survey, I considered asking subjects to email me outside of the survey so that I could speak to them in person, and also be able to promise anonymity for their survey responses. Instead, I chose to request people who were willing to meet to provide their email address in the electronic form, because I thought this had two advantages—it allowed me to tailor follow up questions to interesting survey responses in individual follow up meetings, and it left me with the responsibility of contacting them rather than waiting for emails, which in my experience, can drastically decrease volunteers.
There were a few questions, which I chose to keep exactly word for word as they were listed in survey Shreiner analyzes because they had qualitative answer styles, which I am interested to compare to the national averages according to the 2007 survey. I don’t intend to perform any sort of critical comparison of the responses to the two surveys, but I still thought it would be interesting to see how my respondents compared to the respondents to the national survey on a few questions which ask you to place yourself on a numbered scale signifying your level of satisfaction, or sense of achievement.