A new survey of more than 58,000 University of California undergraduates provides new insights about who UC students are, what motivates them, how they spend their time, and how they view their academic and personal experiences at the university.
The university today (July 19) unveiled a web site providing findings from the survey, the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES), at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/studentsurvey. The online survey was offered to all UC undergraduates in spring 2006, and the 58,047 who participated represent a 38 percent response rate.
In a presentation today to the UC Board of Regents, UC Vice President for Student Affairs Judy Sakaki said the survey is intended both to support independent scholarly research about the backgrounds, experiences, and attitudes of undergraduate students and also to help the university itself plan to meet the needs of undergraduates.
“At UC we are fortunate to have such an exciting and diverse student body. UCUES gives us an additional window into who they are and what they are thinking,” Sakaki said. “The data from this survey will be extremely useful for research purposes, and just as importantly, we in the university administration will use the results to inform decision making about how best to improve programs and services for our undergraduates.”
Among the findings of the survey:23 percent of UC undergraduates were born outside the United States, and another 37 percent born in the U.S. have at least one parent who was born outside the U.S. 35 percent are not native speakers of English. 78 percent of juniors and seniors plan to earn a graduate or professional degree. 87 percent of lower-division students and 89 percent of upper-division students report satisfaction with the quality of faculty instruction they have received at UC. 77 percent of undergraduates participated in research as part of their coursework during the last academic year, and 58 percent contributed to class discussion. 42 percent say being easily distracted and not able to concentrate on their work has been an obstacle to their academic success. 82 percent say that, knowing what they know now, they would still enroll at their campus. The vast majority report that students are respected at UC regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, race/ethnicity, or economic or social class. Between 79 percent and 90 percent report this view on each of the factors measured. 55 percent say the university’s research mission detracts to some extent from the quality of teaching, though 82 percent also report that attending a university with world-class researchers is important to them. 59 percent participate in campus clubs or organizations, 56 percent are employed either on- or off-campus during the academic year, and 44 percent participated in community service in the last academic year. On average, students in the survey spend 13.1 hours per week outside of the classroom on coursework, 11.1 hours per week using the Internet for non-academic purposes, and 5.7 hours per week watching television. Students who are employed during the academic year report working an average of 14.6 hours per week. 55 percent report using the Internet as their primary news information source.
UCUES is a collaborative research project of UC faculty and campus institutional research professionals. The project is sponsored by the UC Office of the President and the nine undergraduate campuses of UC and is based at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education as part of its Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Project.
“UC faces a future composed of significant enrollment growth, increased diversity in the demographic background of students, potentially revolutionary changes in pedagogy and the use of technology, and continued financial constraints, all of which will influence the undergraduate experience,” said John Aubrey Douglass, a co-principal investigator in the SERU Project. “At this critical juncture in the university’s history, UCUES offers a powerful tool for greater understanding of who UC’s students are and, perhaps most importantly, for promoting institutional self-improvement and innovation.”
UCUES was first administered in 2002 as a sample, on-line survey to a subset of UC undergraduates. The survey expanded in 2003 and 2004, and the 2006 survey is the most comprehensive to date. The next UC-wide administration of UCUES will be in spring 2008.
Additional detail about the UCUES survey and highlights of the results can be found at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/studentsurvey. UCUES project manager Paula Zeszotarski can be contacted at email@example.com, and SERU/UCUES project director Steve Chatman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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