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North Carolina State University
Sophomore Student Survey Trends, 1998-2008:
Executive Summary

Survey Methods

The Sophomore Student Survey has been conducted at NC State during the spring semester in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. Eligible sophomores are those having completed 45-59 credit hours, with at least 30 at NC State. The survey is administered initially on the web, followed by paper surveys distributed by academic advisors to those not responding on the web. In 2008, additional paper surveys were mailed directly to nonresondents living on campus.

The survey response rate over the years has ranged from a high of 72.2 percent in 2000 to a low of 54.9 percent in the most recent administration.

Satisfaction with NC State

About 90 percent of respondents in each year said they plan to complete their degree at NC State. Over 70 percent of respondents in each survey year stated that they would choose NC State again if they could start over.

Academic Environment and Faculty Contributions

A large majority of respondents in each survey year gave positive ratings to the intellectual environment at NC State. The number rating it as "very strong" has increased 10 percentage points in recent years, going from 19 percent in 2002 to 29 percent in 2008. In addition, sophomores have been generally positive about the overall quality of instruction and education at NC State. Each year, however, students rated their overall education more favorably than they did the overall quality of instruction.

A majority of respondents in each survey year gave positive ratings to faculty members' contributions to their educational experience at NC State. Respondents consistently gave highest ratings to instructors setting high expectations to learn and encouraging devotion of time/energy to coursework, and lowest ratings to how well faculty members care about [students'] academic success and welfare. Ratings have especially improved for faculty respect for diverse talents/ways of learning. Students were two times as likely to rate faculty's respect for diverse talents/ways of learning as "excellent" in 2008 compared to 1998 (24% vs. 12%).

The percentage of sophomores reporting having had a class that was too large to learn effectively has decreased over the years of the survey. Most significantly, the number of respondents saying they had had four or more such classes has decreased from about 20 percent in 1998 to less than 10 percent in 2008. In each year of the survey about 40 percent of students said they had had two or more classes in which they had difficulty understanding the instructor's English.

Campus Climate

In each survey year, consistently larger proportions of sophomores have responded positively about both the importance and experience of a sense of belonging at NC State.

An increasing majority of students over the years of the survey have agreed that NC State is committed to helping minorities succeed. While getting slightly lower ratings, student agreement that NC State's leadership fosters diversity on campus has even more dramatically increased, with 37 percent "strongly agreeing" in 2008 compared to 9 percent in 1998.

When asked about the perceived supportiveness of the campus for various student groups, in all survey years respondents have been most likely to say the campus is "strongly supportive" of men, and least likely to say the campus is "strongly supportive" of gay and lesbian students. However, beliefs that the campus is "strongly supportive" of gay and lesbian students have markedly increased over time: from 11 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2008. In 2008, for the first time since the question was first asked in 2000, a majority of sophomores (51%) reported the campus was at least "mildly supportive" of gay and lesbian students.

Student Services

Greater than two-thirds of respondents in each year reported feeling that the campus had taken sufficient steps to ensure their safety.

Among seven different categories of academic student services asked about, respondents consistently gave highest ratings to library and technology services. Services specifically related to training to use the library and technology services, however, received relatively lower ratings. Across survey years, respondents gave lowest ratings to orientation for new students and availability of books/supplies at campus bookstore. (Due to a change in the order of response options for this series of questions, 2008 results are not included in this report.)

Although ratings of non-academic services varied a great deal across the survey years, opportunities for extra-curricular activities and health services consistently rated highest among the services, and food services the lowest. In general, respondents' ratings of staff responsiveness were similar to the relevant service. The one exception is that food services staff was consistently given higher ratings than food services. (Due to a change in the order of response options for this series of questions, 2008 results are not included in this report.)

Since 2002, a majority of students have reported receiving financial aid. Most students are "very" or "moderately" satisfied with their aid package. Ratings for financial aid staff has improved slightly over the years of the survey, most notably for phone and reception staff.

Knowledge, Skills, and Personal Development

Since 1999 (when the questions were first asked), respondents have given slightly higher ratings to NC State's ability to meet their intellectual growth needs than to the university's ability to meet their personal or career training needs. All three items, however, received favorable ratings, and ratings have generally increased over time.

A majority of respondents in each survey year reported that NC State contributed at least "somewhat" to their development of all but one of the general education goals asked about, and all but one of the personal development goals asked about. Highest average ratings for general education goals were given to developing computer skills, enhancing analytical skills, and ability to critically analyze ideas and information. On average respondents gave the lowest ratings to speaking skills. Among personal development goals, independence and self-reliance was rated highest, and exercising public responsibility and community service lowest.

In all survey years respondents tended to give lower ratings to NC State's contribution to their development of world view goals than to general education or personal development goals. Among world view goals ratings were highest for ability to work with diverse backgrounds and developing tolerance for divergent views, and lowest ratings for advancing appreciation of the arts. (Due to a change in the order of response options for this series of questions, 2008 results are not included in this report.)

Employment and Extracurricular Activities

The percentage of students saying they were employed during the academic year has notably decreased over time, going from a high of 67 percent in 1998 to a low of 52 percent in 2008. However, among employed respondents, the average hours worked per week appears to be increasing over time. About one-quarter of respondents worked 20 or more hours per week in 1998, compared to 35 percent in 2008. New question wording starting in 2004 indicates that more hours per week are being worked in off-campus, rather than on-campus jobs.

In the 1998-2002 surveys, about 40 percent of resopndents said that their jobs were at least "somewhat related" to their academic major. Starting in 2004, students were asked separately about on- and off-campus employment. On-campus jobs were more likely than off-campus jobs to be at least "somewhat related" to respondent's academic major.

In each survey year, from a list of about 15 activities respondents were most likely to report being involved in intramurals/rec. sports/club teams, organizations/clubs related to major, and academic (Honors Program, etc.) groups.

For more information on trends in the Sophomore Student Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Box 7002
Phone: (919) 515-4184

Posted: May 2010

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