North Carolina State University
2000 Sophomore Student Survey:
Introduction, Methods and Student Demographic Profile

(Report No. 2)

Introduction

This series of reports presents findings from the 2000 Sophomore Survey at NC State University. Beginning with a pilot study in 1997, NC State has surveyed its sophomore student population each spring semester. Eligible sophomores had completed 45-59 credit hours, with at least 30 at NC State. Students from all 10 undergraduate academic units, including the First Year College, were included in the study.

This introductory report describes the survey methods and compares survey respondents to the survey population on gender, race/ethnicity1, and academic unit. The next report in the series, 2000 Sophomore Student Survey: All Respondents, is an overview of all students who participated in the sophomore survey. It presents summary statistics for each survey topic, including student background characteristics and interests, their assessment of the academic environment and faculty contributions, their evaluations of student services, and ratings of the extent to which NC State has contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development. The survey questions and detailed tables of responses by gender, race/ethnicity, and college are available on the World Wide Web.

Survey Methods

Respondents

Two data collection methods were used. Initially, students could respond to the survey via the Web. Students not completing the web survey received a hardcopy of the questionnaire from their advisors during the spring advising period. Eligible sophomores returned a total of 1,365 useable surveys -- 1,282 from the web and 83 from the advising period. This represents 72.2 percent of the 1,890 sophomores who were eligible to participate in the survey. As described below, there are no significant differences between respondents and the sophomore class with respect to gender, race/ethnicity, or college.

Analyses

The data obtained from completed surveys were analyzed using standard statistical methods. Because the response rate is high (72.2%) and the number of eligible sophomores is fairly large (1,890), the margin of error for these results is low (+1.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval). That is, if 70.2 percent of respondents said they would choose this campus again, we can be 95 percent sure that the true figure would be between 69.2 percent (70.2 1.0) and 71.2 percent (70.2 + 1.0) if all eligible sophomores had responded to the survey 2 . The margin of error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements for various subgroups, such as the separate figures reported for whites and African Americans in the Web tables, are less precise than statements based on the total sample. For example, 125 (56.6%) of 221 eligible African American students responded to the survey, but the population is only one-tenth as big as the whole population for the survey. As a result, the margin of error for figures reported for African Americans is larger (+3.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval).

These reports attempt to provide a level of detail that makes the data more accessible and interpretable to the novice data user. A primary purpose is to highlight patterns found in responses to related question items or between comparison groups. Such consistencies among items or between groups are usually more important for understanding the data than are the sizes of the differences between individual pairs of ratings or ranks, or, to some extent, whether the differences are statistically significant.3 While some individual small differences might be statistically significant, they may not be substantively meaningful. On the other hand, when even relatively small differences yield consistent patterns within a similar series of questions, the results are potentially more telling.

 

Demographics of the Sophomore Class and Survey Respondents

Gender and Race/Ethnicity (Table 2-1)

There were no significant gender or racial/ethnic differences between the eligible sophomores enrolled at NC State in the spring of 2000 and those in the survey population. The sophomore class was 42.8 percent female, compared to 44.2 percent of the survey respondents. About 81 percent of the sophomore students were white, 11.7 percent African American, and 7.2 percent other minorities. Among survey respondents, 83.1 percent were white, 9.2 percent African American, and 7.7 percent other minorities.

Table 2-1: Demographics of Sophomore Class and Survey Respondents

Racial/Ethnic Group

(N)

%

Sophomore Class

Survey Respondents

 

Female

Male

Total

Female

Male

Total

White

(632)

33.4%

(900)

47.6%

(1532)

81.1%

(480)

35.2%

(654)

47.9%

(1134)

83.1%

African-American

(119)

6.3%

(102)

5.4%

(221)

11.7%

(74)

5.4%

(51)

3.7%

(125)

9.2%

Native American

(5)

0.3%

(7)

0.4%

(12)

0.6%

(3)

0.2%

(4)

0.3%

(7)

0.5%

Asian

(37)

2.0%

(58)

3.1%

(95)

5.0%

(35)

2.6%

(43)

3.2%

(78)

5.7%

Hispanic

(15)

0.8%

(15)

0.8%

(30)

1.6%

(11)

0.8%

(10)

0.7%

(21)

1.5%

Total

(808)

42.8%

(1082)

57.3%

(1890)

100.0%

(603)

44.2%

(762)

55.8%

(1365)

100.0%

Note: Survey respondents are included in figures for the Sophomore Class

Academic Units (Table 2-2)

Table 2-2 presents enrollment of sophomore students and survey respondents by academic unit. Again there were no significant differences between the sophomore class and the survey respondents. The largest percentages of sophomore students were enrolled in the College of Engineering (COE) followed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Table 2: Classification by Academic Unit

Academic Unit

Sophomore Class

Survey Respondents

N

%

N

%

Engineering

557

29.5%

461

33.8%

Agriculture and Life Science

323

17.1%

247

18.1%

Humanities and Social Sciences

242

12.8%

152

11.1%

Management

242

12.8%

154

11.3%

First Year College

167

8.8%

96

7.0%

Education and Psychology

95

5.0%

72

5.3%

Textiles

79

4.2%

59

4.3%

Physical and Mathematical Sciences

66

3.5%

54

4.0%

Forest Resources

62

3.3%

36

2.6%

Design

57

3.0%

34

2.5%

Total

1890

100.0%

1376

100.0%

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Endnotes:
1. The term "racial/ethnic" is used throughout these reports to recognize the potentially blurred distinction between the individual terms. In application materials, students were asked to identify themselves using the following categories: Caucasian. African American or Black (not of Hispanic origin), Native American Indian or Alaskan, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish origin or culture, regardless of race). For analysis purposes, these categories were collapsed into "White," "African American," and "other minorities."(back)
2. A 95 percent confidence interval contains the true population value in 95% of the possible samples of a given size from the population. Margins of error for individual questions are usually even smaller than the overall margin of error because the variance of proportions in each survey item is almost always less than the 50/50 figure used in calculating the confidence interval. Thus, the margin of error given is conservative.(back)
3. In analyses not presented in these reports, responses were tested for significant differences between women and men, between white, African American, and other minority students, and between the different colleges. All questions requiring categorical responses were analyzed using chi-squared tests, and all questions with numerically coded responses were analyzed with either T-tests or one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Tukey's multiple comparison procedure. Complete results are available from UPA on request.(back)

 

For more information on the 2000 Sophomore Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Box 7002
NCSU
Phone: (919) 515-4184
Email: Nancy_Whelchel@ncsu.edu

Posted: April, 2001

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