MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
February 18, 2013


VIII. NEW BUSINESS.

A. Student Experience in the Research University (SERU).

Dr. Gale Stuart introduced herself as director of Rapid Analysis Team in the Office of the Provost and Gina Gordon as the coordinator of the SERU survey, which, among students, is also known as “Share What You Know With Bevo.” She said the survey was always administered in the spring semester and therefore would be coming up again very soon. Unlike many post-secondary student surveys, the SERU study covers an array of topics, such as personal finance, time allocation, classroom experiences, and campus climate for diversity. The study is a census that allows for assessment of the differences across colleges, down to programmatic levels.

SERU was started at the University of California at Berkeley, for the UC system around 2001 and administered “only within the UCs through about 2008,” after which time many other large colleges asked to participate. This led to the creation of an internal system within the UC system and one for outside, now called SERU. Currently, the consortium includes about fifteen schools outside the UC system. Texas A&M University joined in 2012 and The University of Texas at Austin in 2010, which constituted a pilot year and did not get a very good response rate. In 2011, the response rate increased to a percentage in the high 30s and provided a researchable data set.

Dr. Stuart pointed out a slide that compared UT Austin with eight other institutions in 2011 on a six-point satisfaction scale and showed that UT students were much more satisfied than their peers across the nation with the value of their education for the price they had to pay. The same survey also showed that UT students slept less than students at other institutions, which was communicated with University Health Services. Yet another slide showed the percentage of students with some sort of research experience across colleges. Dr. Stuart referred to a paper she wrote that looked “at the relationship between students’ participation in research and other activities and their graduation rates,” and noted “that students who … have more research engagement, actually graduate in four years in higher percentages than students who don’t.” She also cited a paper by Drs. Marc Musick and Harrison Keller that showed that students who participate in research tend to have higher GPAs than their comparison group.

Gina Gordon noted that the response rate in 2011 at UT Austin was 36 percent, while it was 64 percent at the University of Florida. She stressed that higher response rates lead to higher data validity and provide opportunities to drill down to the college level. During the 2013 study, which is expected to start in early March, the UT website will compare weekly participation numbers across colleges.

To increase student participation, President Powers and Provost Leslie, as well as the student deans of each college, have agreed to promote the survey. Advisors in all the colleges have been asked to hand out reminder bookmarks to students. Additional incentives total about $3,000. Ms. Gordon stressed the importance of the survey and asked Faculty Council members to spread the word. More information can be found at http://www.utexas.edu/seru/ or on Facebook or Twitter.

Professor Beckner asked if there were any explanations for the different levels of research involvement in different colleges, and there were not.

Chair Hilley asked about the time commitment for the survey. Dr. Stuart noted that the survey is rather long with topics randomly assigned to different students taking about 30 minutes to complete. Students can, however, leave the site and return to where they previously left off.

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