February 22, 2003

Survey Seeks to Address C.U. Student Concerns

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The undergraduate community will be given the opportunity to take part in a survey distributed by Institutional Research and Planning over the next several weeks. The survey aims to gather information about the undergraduate experience here at Cornell.

“This is an opportunity for us to ask students their opinions about different things happening on campus,” said Marne Einarson, senior research and planning associate.

“We are concerned about things such as interaction among students and faculty-student interactions. It’s really a way for students to make their voices heard,” she said.

All students registered for the spring semester were mailed a survey invitation on Wednesday. A follow-up e-mail, providing students with a link to the online survey, will be sent next week. Students will have the opportunity to fill out the survey between Feb. 24 and March 9.

The survey was developed by the Consortium on Financing Higher Education and will be distributed by 27 other colleges and universities including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Duke and the University of Chicago.

Once the survey is completed, Cornell will be able to analyze not only the data gathered from its student body, but also the information from all the schools which were involved in the survey. The survey will also include a number of additional questions tailored specifically for Cornell.

The information provided by the survey will be used by a number of different groups. “This is stuff that the institution pays attention to,” said Michael Matier, director of institutional research and planning.

“A variety of colleges pay attention to this for their advising practices. Gannett pays real close attention to what comes out of this,” Matier said.

The survey results will also be important to the ongoing West Campus Residential Initiative project. “There’s a question asking [students] about a new community recreation center on West Campus. We are trying to find out what things the students would most likely use. The questions in there [the survey] are going to be helpful for the people planning the program for that building” Einarson said.

The survey distributors hope that they will be able to get a large number of responses from students. “For us, trying to encourage a broad spectrum of students to participate is important, so we know the results we are getting are representative of the whole student body,” Einarson said.

Previous surveys which Institutional Research and Planning has conducted have yielded response rates of 50-60 percent.

Institutional Research and Planning has implemented a raffle drawing in order to encourage students to complete the survey. The sooner a student fills out the survey, the greater number of times his or her name will be placed into the prize drawing. Prizes include electronics, discounts off of Cornell Dining meal plans and men’s ice hockey tickets to next year’s Harvard game.

The anonymity of students will be protected during the analysis of the results. “The data will be managed in such a way that everyone’s data is held confidentially.” Matier said. “[It is] done on a coded basis. Nothing is ever produced or published which would allow an individual student’s data to be released. Confidentiality is very closely guarded.”

The survey is open to all undergraduate students who registered by the third week of the semester. Students who have registered late, however, may still participate by contacting Institutional Research and Planning.

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco