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The Exit Survey of Undergraduate Students Completing Degrees in the Spring of 2011 (Exit Survey) is the third annual survey of graduating students conducted at Western Washington University. This survey is designed to better illuminate departmental-, college-, and university-level information on student satisfaction, barriers to success, experiences in upper division courses, and post-graduation plans. This survey also includes questions submitted to the Office of Survey Research (OSR) by the Honors Program, the Math Center, the Division of Enrollment and Student Services, Environmental Health and Safety, University Residences, the proposed renewable energy degree program, and the departments of Mathematics and Modern and Classical Languages. The Exit Survey consists of a mixture of open-ended, multiple-choice and numerical response questions. This report provides descriptive statistics of the multiple choice and numerical response questions. The appendices to this report present count data on two of the open ended questions: “In what ways has Western exceeded your expectations?” and “In what ways has Western fallen short of your expectations?” This report also summarizes each multiple-choice and numerical response question at the college and departmental levels. Hopefully, this disaggregation of data will aid colleges and departments in their self-assessment efforts. OSR initiated the Exit Survey during the week of May 2nd with an e-mail sent by the chair of the recipient’s major department. This e-mail requested that respondents complete the Exit Survey using a link embedded within the e-mail. A follow-up e-mail from OSR was sent three days later to non-respondents and then the process was repeated to non-respondent’s off-campus e-mail address on May 9th and 12th. OSR then sent a reminder to internal email addresses on Monday and Thursday May 16th and 19th, and to external addresses on May 23rd and 26th. Non-respondents were then contacted with phone call requests for their participation beginning on May 23rd. This process ended the day before spring quarter graduation. Of the 1,574 spring quarter graduates, OSR received valid responses from 1,005, a response rate of 63.9%. As with any voluntary survey, readers should be concerned about sample selection bias; that is bias which arises because survey respondents are not a random selection from the population of survey recipients. While sample selection bias for the Exit Survey is mitigated through proper survey techniques and a high response rate, its presence should be considered when evaluating the data. Section A of this document reports basic demographic and academic statistics of the 2011 spring graduates who responded to the survey and compares these to non-respondents. As found in the general literature on surveys, women were more likely to complete the survey (60% of respondents were women whereas 57% of graduates were women). Respondents appear to be slightly better students as measured by the admissions index (average of 60.1 for respondents versus 58.1 for all graduates) and WWU GPA (average of 3.26 for respondents versus 3.21). In other ways, respondents and non-respondents were remarkably similar. For instance, 22.3% of respondents were minorities while 24.1% of graduates were minorities. The average and median age of respondents and non-respondents were identical and measures of first generation, transfer status, Washington residency, cumulative WWU credits earned, and credits taken in the spring quarter of 2011 were very similar. The remainder of this report contains university-level summary statistics of each question asked (Section B). This data is then disaggregated by college (Section C) and disaggregated again by department (Sections D through J). The final section, K, presents data from questions added to the Exit Survey by individual colleges, departments, and university offices. While OSR will leave it to the reader to decide what is informative or striking in this report, we undertake to point out some findings which the wider campus may find interesting. If provided the opportunity to start over, 86% of respondents would attend Western again; a number which has grown one percent each year since OSR initiated exit surveys in 2009. Of those who would not attend Western again, the most frequently given reasons were that another school has a better program in the student’s field of study, a degree from another school is perceived to be more valuable, and the student felt like they settled for a second-rate experience when they should have tried harder to get into a better school. When asked about the length of time it took to graduate relative to their expectations at the time of enrollment, 73% of students claimed it took “less time than expected” or “as long as expected.” This too is an improvement over the prior year. For students who took longer to graduate than expected, the most frequently cited reasons for the delays were “I changed my major” and “I was uncertain about which major to choose.” Interestingly, only 23% of students who took longer to graduate than expected claimed that a major reason for this delay was an inability to get into needed courses. When asked about their upper division studies, 92% of students expressed a positive level of satisfaction with the knowledge and expertise of faculty and 87% were positively satisfied with the quality of instruction and the level of academic challenge. Fifty-eight percent of students collaborated with a professor on a research or creative project outside of class time and 75% of these students indicated that this experience contributed “quite a bit” or “a lot” to their learning. The average student graduated with an educational debt of just under $13,000 however, this average hides the fact that 45.6% of graduates completed their education with no debt whatsoever. The average debt of those who did borrow was $23,678, an amount about $500 greater than the prior year. Twenty-three percent of students indicated that their student loans impacted their decision to pursue a particular career. Fifty-six percent of students indicated that their principal activity upon graduation was full-time employment while 13% expect to work part-time. Of those expecting to work, 45% were looking for, but unable to find a job. This is 2% higher than a year ago. Seventeen percent of graduates hoped to attend a graduate program and of these, 63% had accepted an offer of admission. One feature of the Exit Survey is that respondents are tracked using their W number which provides OSR the opportunity to merge the student data with Western’s records and past OSR surveys. This ability profoundly opens the door to analysis of longitudinal issues that would otherwise be impossible. OSR is happy to share data or provide survey services upon request.
Digital object produced by Office of Survey Research, Western Washington University, and made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
College graduates--Washington (State)--Statistics; College graduates--Washington (State)--Attitudes
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Survey Research) ; 2011-07
Krieg, John M.; Hartsoch, Beth; Clark, Linda D. (Linda Darlene); and Seaman, Kieran, "Exit Survey of Undergraduate Students Completing Degrees in the Spring 2011: Descriptive Statistics" (2011). Office of Survey Research. 547.
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