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New Student Orientation Program 2002
Follow-Up Evaluation

Background and Purpose

The College of Arts and Sciences currently surveys students and parents during each Orientation session. PBA has consulted on these surveys in the past. Other colleges do not conduct formal surveys during the Orientation program.

In May 2002, the campus-wide Orientation Advisory Committee proposed a survey late in the fall semester to gather longer term perceptions and to evaluate the "staying power" of knowledge gained during Orientation. The data collection was later expanded to cover the New Student Welcome program occurring at the beginning of classes in the fall. This program offers informational and social activities primarily to new freshmen living in the residence halls.

The major audiences for this survey include orientation planners, deans and associate deans, and college advisors. Members of the Orientation Advisory Committee felt that these individuals hear anecdotal complaints but do not have enough representative data to put them in perspective.

PBA consulted heavily on instrument design, and performed all sampling, data collection, and analysis.

Methods

1450 new freshmen and new transfers were sampled. To help ensure representative results, sampling was performed by college, and by "cluster" of majors within A&S. Students were sampled from all colleges except Music, which has a minimal Orientation program. The overall response rate was 43%, which is comparable to other recent PBA web surveys.

Data collection was entirely on the web, using email solicitations and ten $50 cash incentives. The collection period ran from November 5 to November 21, 2002. This was immediately before most new students register for spring term classes.

In addition to rating scale and yes/no items, the survey instrument solicited several open-ended comments. Major areas of evaluation were

  • the Orientation program itself—general impression and specific content areas
  • registration and course selection
  • New Student Welcome
  • two hypothetical problems related to course selection and dorm conflicts on which respondents evaluated various solutions

Comparisons of interest include colleges, freshmen vs. transfers, and June/July vs. August orientation (within A&S and Business only—earlier sessions are smaller than the August session).

Highlights

Overall, students are only moderately satisfied with their Orientation experience.

  • Only 51% of respondents said that Orientation was at least somewhat valuable to them (those answering in the upper half of a scale ranging from "A Complete Waste of Time" to "Valuable").
  • When asked to list the first five words coming to mind about Orientation, "boring" and "long" were two of the most common responses.

However, students are somewhat more pleased with the specific information they received.

  • Students feel they received the most useful information on course requirements and advising, with somewhat less information on support services.
  • The words "informative" and "helpful" are also commonly associated with Orientation.

Most students feel they had the skills necessary to make fall course selections and to register for classes (over 75% answering "somewhat" or "very much").

  • This is a major goal of the Orientation program for A&S (though other colleges vary on how much this is emphasized during Orientation).

Over half of new freshmen surveyed participated in New Student Welcome activities. Most of those who attended report positive evaluations of the program.

  • The program helped students most with feeling welcome at CU, with meeting other students, and with learning residence hall rules.

Respondents endorsed sensible and logical solutions to situations related to Orientation and New Student Welcome content

  • When faced with a last minute course requirement question, students recommended resources such as the course catalog, academic advisors, and college websites.
  • Common solutions to a conflict between roommates included negotiating ground rules and discussion between the involved parties, both of which were appropriate to the conflict’s scale.

Detailed results on closed-ended items are in an Excel report. Includes comparisons on key student and program characteristics. Open-ended responses are in a separate Excel file. The list of open responses also contains raw data for all closed-ended items, for selecting open-ended comments based on responses to other items in the survey.

Caution on interpretation. The instrument was purposely generic, so that it would fit the Orientation programs of all colleges. Interpreting differences between colleges requires a substantial amount of knowledge about these programs.

Last revision 09/12/06


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