Having found that the work done to survey students in an earlier term (noted here) was helpful, I purposed early in the Spring 2016 instructional term at Oklahoma State University and Northern Oklahoma College to repeat the exercise. To that end, the students enrolled in my three sections of ENGL 1213: Composition II at Oklahoma State University–015, 023, and 040–and my one section of ENGL 1213: Composition II at Northern Oklahoma College were asked to fill out a survey administered anonymously online via Google and offering a grade reward to encourage participation. A report of the event for the Oklahoma State University students is here; a similar report for the students at Northern Oklahoma College is here. The survey was left open from its initial announcement on 27 January 2016 until 3 February 2016, permitting ample time for completion.
At the beginning of the survey, 54 students were enrolled in my sections at Oklahoma State University; enrollment dropped to 51 while the survey was open. Nine were enrolled in my section at Northern Oklahoma College. Fifty-two responses were recorded across the four sections, 82.539 to more than 86.666% of those available. Eighteen came from Section 015 at Oklahoma State University, 16 from Section 023, ten from Section 040, and eight from the section at Northern Oklahoma College; Section 040 is underrepresented among the survey results for reasons that are not clear.
It is possible that duplicate submissions were recorded, with two evident pairs in place. It is possible, however, that they reflect students of markedly similar backgrounds; I have had sets of twins in previous classes, for example, so I have seen such things happen. For that reason, the possible duplicates are included among the reported results against the possibility that they are not duplicates. It may introduce some inaccuracy into the data, but it is not likely to be enough to alter or invalidate general impressions and tendencies identified from among the data.
Like its Fall 2015 counterpart, the survey issued on 27 January 2016 asked after demographic and academic data. It neglected to ask about class impressions and anticipated performance; by the time the survey was issued to students (something delayed by longer-than-anticipated fluidity of rosters), graded work had begun to come in, skewing potential results about the latter two categories. The report below follows the general format, noting results of the demographic and academic data before advancing impressions and implications thereof.
As in the Fall 2015 entry survey, for the Spring 2016 third-week survey, students were asked to report age, gender identification, and racial and ethnic identifications (following the 2010 US Census Bureau categories and definitions); socio-economic status was omitted from the Spring 2016 survey in response to informal student comments noting the confusing nature of the descriptor. Available answers for age were “Under 17,” “17,” “18,” “19,” “20,” “Over 20,” and “Prefer not to respond.” Students were again allowed to select one and only one answer. A plurality of respondents reported being 18 years of age (eight, or 34.6% of respondents). Fifteen (28.8% of respondents) reported being 19, 13 (25%) over 20, and six (11.5%) age 20. None reported being 17 years of age or under, and none opted out of responding.
Also as in the Fall 2015 entry survey, available answers for gender identification were “Female,” “Intersex,” “Male,” “Trans,” “Prefer not to identify,” and “Other.” Students were again allowed to select one and only one answer. Half (26) identified as female; half (26) identified as male. No other answers were given.
As was true of the Fall 2015 entry survey, available answers for racial identification were “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” “Black or African-American,” “White,” “Some Other Race,” and “Prefer not to identify.” Again, students were allowed to select multiple answers. Forty-five respondents, 86.5% of the total, self-identified as White. Seven (13.5%) identified as Black of African-American, and two (3.8%) each identified as American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian. No other answers were recorded.
Also as was true in the Fall 2015 entry survey, available answers for ethnic identification–specifically, identification as Hispanic–were “Yes,” “No,” and “Prefer not to identify.” Students were again allowed to select one and only one option. Forty-nine (94.2%) respondents reported not identifying as Hispanic; three (5.8%) reported identifying as Hispanic. None opted out of responding.
Students were asked to report section of enrollment, classification, current GPA, College of major, major, and minor (if available). Section of enrollment is discussed above, but for classification, available responses were, as in the Fall 2015 entry survey, “Freshman,” “Sophomore,” “Junior,” “Senior,” and “Prefer not to respond.” Students were allowed to select one and only one answer. Thirty-five respondents, 67.3% of the total, reported being freshmen. Eight (15.4%) each reported being sophomores and juniors, and one (1.9%) reported being a senior; none opted out of responding.
As in the Fall 2015 entry survey, available responses about current GPA were “3.5+,” “3.0-3.499,” “2.5-2.999,” “2.0-2.499,” “1.5-1.999,” “1.0-1.499,” “Below 1.0,” “No GPA recorded yet,” and “Prefer not to respond.” Students were allowed to select one and only one answer once again. Twenty-one respondents, 40.4% of the total, reported a GPA of 3.0-3.499. Eleven (21.2%) reported a GPA of 2.5-2.999, ten (19.2%) 3.5+, four (7.7%) 2.0-2.499, three 1.5-1.999, and two (3.58%) noted having no recorded GPA as yet. Only one ( 1.9%) opted not to report a GPA.
Available responses about the College of major included, as in the Fall 2015 entry survey, “Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources”; “Arts and Sciences”; “Education”; “Engineering, Architecture, and Technology”; “Human Sciences”; “Spears School of Business”; “Undeclared”; “Prefer not to identify”; and “Other.” Students were again allowed to select one and only one answer; “Other” was indicated as the appropriate response for those pursuing double majors whose majors cross Colleges. Eleven, or 21.2% of respondents, reported having majors in the Spears School of Business. Eight (15.4%) reported a major in Education, seven (13.5%) in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Six (11.5%) reported majoring in each of Arts and Sciences; Engineering, Architecture, and Technology; and Human Sciences. Five (9.6%) reported “Other,” and three (5.8%) reported being still undeclared.
Majors were reported in open-ended questions, as was true of the Fall 2015 entry survey. After coding to consolidate effectively equivalent responses, 27 separate answers were reported. Six students reported majoring in Animal Science, of whom one declared specializing in pre-veterinary study. Five reported majoring in Marketing, of whom one indicated a double major in Physiology. Three reported majoring in each of Elementary Education, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (of whom one reported double-majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Administration), Nursing, and Psychology. Two reported majoring in each of Finance, Health Education and Promotion, Interior Design, and Mechanical Engineering. One reported majoring in each of the following:
- Accounting and Finance
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Science
- Construction Management Technology
- Contractual Law
- General Business
- Management Information Systems
- Natural Resource Ecology and Wildlife Management
- Nutritional Science
- Secondary Education
- Strategic Communications
Four reported being undeclared, and two opted not to identify their majors.
Minors were also reported in open-ended questions, as had been the case in the Fall 2015 entry survey. After coding to consolidate effectively equivalent responses, 19 separate answers emerged. Five reported minoring in Business, four in Coaching Science, and two each in Merchandising and Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship as an independent field. One reported minoring in each of the following:
- Business Management
- Foreign Language (which language was not specified)
- Graphic Art and Design
Seventeen reported being uncertain or undecided, although one indicated leaning towards each of Business and Psychology. Nine affirmed having no minor, and one opted not to report.
Impressions and Implications
Demographic data reported appear largely to accord with expectations of first-year courses, with most students seeming to be in their late teens and adhering to binary gender identification. They also seem to accord with local populations in terms of racial and ethnic identification; US Census Bureau estimates of the Stillwater, Oklahoma, population (reported here) are at variance with what the surveyed students report, but it must also be noted that the smaller sample size of students will necessarily adjust the numbers, and not all students are from the Stillwater census area. The data reported are not so far removed form Census estimates that other causes for the difference must be sought.
Academic data are somewhat surprising. The sections skew towards a higher classification than could be expected of a first-year course, with more sophomores and juniors than would suggest themselves as common. GPAs also skew higher than traditional assumptions would have it; the bell curve seems to center in the B range of grades, rather than the C that “average” performance would indicate. Assignments in the sections themselves are graded on a criterion-referenced system rather than a norm-referenced system, however, so it is not to be wondered at that other courses would be similarly graded, resulting in different results than traditional assumptions might suggest.
Distribution of majors was not unexpected for the area. Northern Oklahoma College, particularly at its Stillwater campus, serves in many respects as a feeder school for Oklahoma State University, and the University is primarily an agricultural and mechanical institution. For the students in the sections taught to tend toward majoring in such fields is to be expected therefore, and, as common understandings suggest that as many as half of undergraduates major in a business field, the number of students reporting majoring in the Spears School of Business comes as no surprise, either.
It seems that the students in the four sections of ENGL 1213: Composition II I am teaching during the Spring 2016 term are largely traditional in their backgrounds. This would suggest that traditional classroom methodologies will be effective. The version of the class being taught at Northern Oklahoma College corresponds with traditional models in many respects, while that at Oklahoma State University is more experimental in nature. How performance in the class differs among the students will be interesting to see, although it must be noted that any conclusions drawn from that observation must be interpreted against the differing situations of the classes.
In any event, some thirteen more weeks of instruction remain for impressions to develop further. I look forward to seeing what they bring and to working with my students to ensure that they bring about much.