Western Educational Longitudinal Study (WELS) Baseline Survey of Transfers Entering Western in the Fall, 2011
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The WELS Baseline Survey of Transfers Entering Western in the Fall, 2011 (Transfer Survey) is the companion survey to the Office of Survey Research’s (OSR) survey of incoming freshmen. Together, these surveys elicit information from students prior to the start of their Western academic careers and provide an initial contact in a longitudinal survey design that follows students through graduation and into their initial years as alumni. The Transfer Survey is designed with three purposes in mind: (1) to provide baseline observations of students prior to the Western experience that can be used to forecast and enhance student success; (2) to provide data that can assist university assessment and accreditation endeavors; and (3) to assess student needs based upon their self-reported characteristics, perceptions, and concerns. To accomplish these, the Transfer Survey integrates questions into seven sections: prior engagement and experiences, the college application process, course scheduling, academic skills and goals, major choice, expenses and employment, and demographics. In addition to these, Western’s Office of Sustainable Transportation submitted questions to better understand planned student commuting patterns. The questions on the Transfer Survey are a mixture of open-ended, numerical and multiple choice types. This report lists all questions and reports basic descriptive statistics from equations which lend themselves to numerical analysis. Responses to open ended questions are available upon request. OSR initially conducted the Transfer Survey by e-mail in July, 2011. This was done in conjunction with Western’s Transitions program; e-mails were sent to Transitions participants the night of the Transitions program. Nonparticipants in Transitions received OSR’s initial e-mail shortly after the conclusion of Transitions. Reminder e-mails were sent to non-respondents at both their internal and external e-mail addresses. Non-respondents to these e-mails received phone call requests and final e-mails through the month of August. The survey was closed the weekend prior to the beginning of fall quarter. Of the 1,114 transfer students entering the fall of 2011, OSR received responses from 760, a response rate of 68.2%. As with any survey, readers should be concerned with sample selection bias; that is bias which arises because survey respondents are not a random selection of the population of survey recipients. While sample selection bias on the Transfer Survey is mitigated through proper survey techniques and a high response rate, its presence should be considered when evaluating data. Section A of this document compares respondents to all incoming transfer students. Relative to all transfers, respondents were more likely to be female (55.9% of respondents versus 53.2% of all transfers), had a slightly lower average admissions index (48.4 of respondents versus 49.6 of transfers), and transferred slightly more credits to WWU (average of 90.3 for respondents and 87.6 for all transfers). On the other hand, respondents and non-respondents were nearly identical in terms of ethnicity, SAT, prior collegiate GPAs, median age, first generation status, and state of origin. In order to shorten the survey and increase respondent completion rates, OSR asked certain questions to a random group of students. In our report, these are noted by statements such as “asked of a random 50% of respondents.” In programming this random group, OSR made an error that prevented some of these questions from being answered. OSR caught this error after the survey had been initiated and then corrected it. As a result, the number of responses to these questions is less than what would have been hoped for. The report notes the questions in which this happened. OSR is excited to share survey data and results with campus researchers so they may address their own questions. To familiarize readers with the content of the survey, here we make a few observations regarding the survey results. Out of 16 potential responses, students listed the following three reasons as “very important” in their decision to attend Western: a specific program at Western, Western’s good reputation, and recreational opportunities in the area. These were the same three as listed in both the 2009 and 2010 transfer surveys. About two-thirds first learned of Western prior to graduating from high school. The most common initial method of learning about Western for transfer students was from friends; although one-fourth of students learned about Western first from other family members. The most valuable resource in learning about Western was Western’s website, followed by friends already attending. The median transfer student applied to only one school (Western), while about one-third applied to two or more schools. The most common school to apply to other than Western was the University of Washington. Among those students who had registered for classes prior to completing the survey, 24% expressed some level of dissatisfaction with their schedule, an amount three percent higher than the 2010 survey results. The most common reasons given for the dissatisfaction were that their desired courses were full by the time they registered for courses and classes were offered at conflicting times. The median transfer student expects to take 7 quarters to graduate from Western, about the same as in the 2010 survey. However, nearly one-in-six transfers expect to take more than 9 quarters to graduate. About 17% of students expressed some level of likelihood that they would transfer from Western prior to earning a degree; again an amount similar to the 2010 survey results. For those who are considering a transfer, the most common reason given was that Western does not offer the degree program they are interested in. While only 40% of transfers have officially declared a major, 75% are certain as to what their major will be. All of OSR’s survey data is linked by a unique student identifier allowing the longitudinal tracking of students through time. OSR is excited to share this data with interested researchers.
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)
Transfer students--Washington (State)--Bellingham--Longitudinal studies; College students--Washington (State)--Longitudinal studies
Title of Series
Technical and research reports (Western Washington University. Office of Survey Research) ; 2012-01
Clark, Linda D. (Linda Darlene); Hartsoch, Beth; Krieg, John M.; and Seaman, Keiran, "Western Educational Longitudinal Study (WELS) Baseline Survey of Transfers Entering Western in the Fall, 2011" (2012). Office of Institutional Effectiveness. 549.
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