Many institutions are in the throes of orientation right now, and to us, that means administering the CIRP Freshman Survey (TFS). For many of you, the real work of understanding what the results mean, of identifying actions that might be taken, and of forming plans for improvement on campus happens when sharing the results of the survey on campus. With that in mind, here are ten places to take your results to facilitate truly making the most of your CIRP administration.
1. First Year Seminar Faculty–This is a great opportunity to share with faculty some facts about the students they have in their classes right now. Preliminary data for the TFS is available on our web portal (www.cirpsurveys.org) 24 hours after the survey closes for web surveys and 3 weeks for paper administrations. Faculty might use basic information such as the percentage of first years who said they frequently expected to ask questions in class, revise their papers to improve their writing, or study with classmates to open or continue conversations about academic expectations and the transition to college level work.
2. Center for Teaching and Learning—Centers for Teaching and Learning often provide faculty and staff with the opportunity for discussions of curricular reform, pedagogical innovation, leadership and professional development. As such, TFS results are valuable in identifying and critically reflecting on academic habits faculty wish to develop in students and how they help students to learn better. Faculty might elect to discuss where in the general education curriculum they introduce or reinforce skills like supporting opinions with a logical argument, seeking solutions to problems and explaining them to others, accepting mistakes as part of the learning process, or integrating skills and knowledge from different sources and experiences.
3. Department Chairs Meeting—Many campuses disaggregate the data by intended major to give departments an idea of what incoming students interested in their major might look like—do they expect to work on a faculty member’s research project? Discuss coursework with other students? Study abroad? Earn an advanced degree? How do they rate themselves on specific student learning outcomes like writing and public speaking? Knowing what the incoming students are like can help faculty understand who is in their introductory courses, allowing them to manage or adjust student expectations and have informed discussions about how best to improve the student experience.
4. Academic Advising—You may not think of academic advising as the first place to take TFS results, given academic advisors cannot use individual data about a student to assist with academic advising. However aggregate information about intentions and expectations of the first year class—things like intended major, Pre-Med and Pre-Law status, the highest degree they intend to earn, what percentage of student intend to study abroad, need remediation, do research with a faculty member, transfer to another institution, or take longer than 4 years to graduate can help advisors more confidently help students to navigate not only course selection, but the tools and resources on campus to help foster success in their first year.
5. Student Affairs–The TFS is a comprehensive survey, so it not only has items about academic life, but considers the co-curriculum an integral part of the college experience. Items asking student about their leadership skills, understanding of self and others, goals with respect to personal and social responsibility allow student affairs to develop and maintain programmatic efforts that foster student growth and development inside and outside the classroom. The survey also asks about students expectations for involvement in activities like volunteer work and community service, athletics (both NCAA and intramural) student clubs and groups, and student government.
6. Health Center–One of the items that rotates on the TFS asks students about disabilities and medical conditions they might have, and while the results of the survey cannot be used to track or identify individual students, the health center can use the percentages of students who report various disabilities and medical conditions to get some idea of the types of needs of incoming students and the services that will be in demand. The survey also asks about health-related behaviors, like how often they drank beer, wine or liquor, how often they smoked, felt depressed or overwhelmed by all they had to do. Looking at these items in aggregate and over time may help health services as they plan programming efforts and services on campus.
7. Admissions—While admissions likely already knows a considerable amount about the incoming class as a whole, there is additional information on the TFS that can further assist them as they look to building future classes. For example, what percentage of incoming students indicate their reason for attending college is to be able to get a better job and earn more money versus to gain a general education and learn more about things that interest them? What factors were very important in helping students choose to enroll at your institution—was it a visit to campus, financial assistance, academic or social reputation? Do the factors considered important differ based on key demographics like gender, ethnicity, or first generation status? How many students are indicating that they intend to transfer? All of these can help admissions get a clearer picture of what is important to prospective students.
8. Career Planning—The TFS asks students about their intended career, as well as their parent’s occupation. It also has information about the highest degree they intend to obtain, whether they are pre-Med or Pre-Law, and the importance of many career-related goals, such as becoming successful in their own business, being very well off financially, influencing social values, and helping others who are in difficulty.
9. Multicultural Affairs/Diversity–The TFS has many items that speak to students previous experiences with diversity, such as the racial composition of their schools and neighborhoods and socializing with someone of a different racial group, as well as their expectations for experiences like having a roommate of a different ethnicity. In addition, it has items that speak to larger academic outcomes around diversity. Knowing how students see their ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective, their tolerance of others with different beliefs, their openness to having their views challenges, their ability to discuss and negotiate controversial issues and their ability to work cooperatively with diverse people can help deepen the commitment to personal and responsibility–skills that are critical in navigating a diverse society after graduation.
10. Orientation Committee—It seem may like they just completed orientation, and the last thing they want to think about is planning for next year, but results about experiences in high school (what percentage of incoming students studied with other students outside of class, performed community service work) can help orientation committees plan activities that speak to student’s needs and interests, as well as provide a deeper understanding of the profile of the first year classes. Many orientation committees share results from previous administrations of the survey with students to establish a connection to the institution as well as establish and manage expectations.