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Senior Survey: An Assessment of the General Education Program
by Robert Mauldin, Ph.D., Director, General Education Program (with assistance from Amy Sparks, Beth Evans, Shayla Caudill, Jill Mummey, and Kristin Humble, student employees of the Assessment Office) July 5, 2006
The Senior Survey is an instrument used to assess students’ attitudes regarding the effectiveness of the University’s General Education Program (GEP). The survey consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that ask students to address to what degree they think the GEP has addressed stated goals. A summary of the responses to the multiple choice portion of the survey is available upon request. The purpose of this document is to summarize written responses to the two questions posed at the end of the survey:
1. Based on your experience with General Education courses, briefly list three purposes of the General Education Program.
2. Your comments and ideas on ways to improve the General Education Program would be appreciated. Please make your comments and suggestions below.
Students’ responses to these two questions are summarized in Table 1 below.
The other purpose of this document is to address whether the manner in which the survey is administered has an effect on students’ responses. Please note that, for the summer of 2004 through the spring of 2005, only the written portion of the survey was administered. It was suggested that the multiple-choice portion of the survey prompted students’ responses to the written portion. That is, the multiple-choice portion of the survey educated students regarding purposes of the GEP. As such, one would predict that students would likely express more dissatisfaction with the GEP without the multiple choice section of the survey. This prediction appears to match results via an increased number of responses that a purpose of the GEP is a waste of time (from 8-9% up to 14-17%). Without the multiple-choice section being completed along with the written portion, several key goals of the GEP were recognized less than before such as world view/culture (5-11% down to 3-5%), communication skills (7-16% down to 3-7%), and critical thinking skills (6-10% down to 3-4%). In addition, one would expect to see more of an indication of the usual focus on the major without the multiple-choice section. This also appears to be the case by way of more students suggesting that general education courses relate more to the students’ majors (12-17% up to 20-23%) and more students responding that a purpose of general education is to allow students the opportunity to select a major (0-4% up to 7-11%). All other indicators of students’ understanding of and satisfaction with the GEP remained roughly constant. As such, initial results appear to support the hypothesis that students are educated concerning the purposes of general education by the multiple-choice section of the survey. These findings suggest that we need to increase our efforts regarding the explanation of the purposes of general education to our students.
Table 1. Summary of Senior Survey Written Results from 2000-20061
1Each year is defined as including fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters. For example, the year 2000-2001 would include fall 2000, winter 2001, spring 2001, and summer 2001.