University of Regina Crest
UNIVERSITY OF REGINA
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY & SOCIAL STUDIES

 

 

Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences

 

Fall 1998

 

Survey Introduction and Description

1. Introduction to the Survey

This Survey is the fifth in a series of surveys of University of Regina undergraduates that have been conducted as part of Social Studies 306, Applied Methods: Quantitative Approaches. In the Fall, 1998 semester, the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences surveyed 712 University of Regina undergraduates concerning a variety of issues social and political views, university issues, views on multiculturalism and immigration, and finances and work activity. Students were also asked to respond to a variety of questions concerning their personal and family background and their academic performance.

The Survey questionnaire was designed by the students and instructor of Social Studies 306 in September and early October, 1998. A preliminary version of the questionnaire was tested on 83 students in mid-October. Following this, the questionnaire was redesigned and shortened. The resulting questions can be seen in the Survey Questionnaire and Results. The printed format of the questionnaire differs a little from the format of the questionnaire on this web site. However, the questions, the order of the questions, and the sets of responses are exactly the same as in the printed version of the questionnaire.

The Survey was conducted by selecting twenty-five undergraduate classes and surveying students in these classes. The classes selected represented a cross-section of classes in various faculties and years of study. The instructors of these classes were asked to cooperate by allowing the Social Studies 306 students to administer the questionnaire in each of these classes. The questionnaire was a little long, taking from fifteen to twenty-five minutes of class time to complete. Once the questionnaires had been filled out by the students in the twenty-five classes, the Social Studies 306 students coded the questionnaires. The data were then entered into the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) program by two Sociology and Social Studies graduate students, Daniel Levis and Mark Nelson, and myself. After checking for and correcting some errors in the coding and entering of the data, a data set for the Survey was prepared.

This Survey data set formed the basis for the Social Studies 306 students to write their final papers for the class. A Report on the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences was also prepared for distribution to the classes in which the Survey had been conducted. This was done during the last week of the semester, with the result that the students who had completed the Survey questionnaire were provided with an overview of the Survey results.

2. Using the Web Site

This web site provides the survey questions along with the frequency distributions for each of the questions. The various sections of the Survey are listed in the Survey Questionnaire and Responses. Follow the links in each section to see the questions, and the links in the questions lead to files that provide frequency distributions of the responses to the questions. Some cross-classification tables have also been provided. In a few cases, there are brief notes on the interpretation of the data and some frequency distributions have been reorganized to clarify the presentation. For the most part though, the frequency distributions are taken directly from the SPSS output.

Note that most of the tables have 703 cases, nine less than the sample of 712. The reason for this discrepancy is that nine cases were eliminated from the data set after a careful examination of these nine cases. While the undergraduates who responded to the Survey generally appeared to treat it carefully and provide thoughtful answers, there were nine questionnaires with questionable responses. These nine cases were eliminated from the data set.

3. Background to the Survey

Since the adoption of the 5/3 system at the University of Regina in 1992, a course in applied methods has been required of University of Regina Sociology majors. Social Studies 306 Applied Methods: Quantitative Approaches is one of the applied methods courses that satisfy this requirement. This course is intended to acquaint students with quantitative methods and with the use of computers in carrying out survey research. The primary activity in Social Studies 306 is to organize and conduct a survey of undergraduate students at the University of Regina. Students in the class discuss the issues to be included in a survey, and then design, pretest, and administer the questionnaire. Following that, students code the responses from the questionnaire and these data are entered into a computer program. Near the end of the semester, students analyze the survey results and write a report on the survey.

The Social Studies 306 surveys were originally aimed at obtaining information concerning the employment patterns of undergraduate students at the University of Regina. Surveys were first carried out by one student in 1988, for two classes in 1990 and 1991, and in Social Studies 306 in the Winter 1994 and Winter 1995 semesters. A similar survey was also conducted by the Office of Institutional Research in 1993. In the process of obtaining information about time spent at employment, it became apparent that information about time spent at other activities was also relevant. In this connection, the surveys obtained information concerning the allocation of time among university related activities such as class and study time, and among family, household, and community activities of students. Issues such as student loans and finances were also strongly connected to the reasons the students cited for being employed, and some surveys provided a limited amount of information on these issues. The Winter 1995 survey asked students about the reasons for attending university. An additional set of questions dealt with the reasons students were taking less than a full load of classes. This latter set of questions was asked because some students and administrators had expressed the view that faculty did not reduce class workloads after the changeover from the 4/4 to the 5/3 semester system. As with any survey of this type, the Student Employment Survey also obtained background information about the students, information such as age, sex, and residence.

In 1996 and 1997, the content of the surveys was altered considerably, with greater emphasis on undergraduate student experiences and lifestyles and less emphasis on student employment patterns. In Winter 1996, the Survey of Student Experiences and Lifestyles obtained information concerning student employment but added several new topics. Undergraduates were asked about their use of and opinions concerning new technologies such as computers and the internet. Another new topic was information about the use of alcoholic beverages by University of Regina undergraduates. The 1996 Survey also obtained information concerning the social atmosphere at the University of Regina, the personal and family background of students, and issues related to academic performance. A supplementary survey in 1996 also asked Cougar athletes to answer a number of questions related to their participation in Cougar athletic teams.

In the Fall 1997 Survey of Student Life, students decided to include in the survey a section dealing with issues related to lifestyle and health, as well as to modify the section on use of alcoholic beverages. Short sections on student academic performance, personal and family background, and employment patterns were also included. Since issues related to ethnicity, immigration, and multiculturalism have been a research focus for some Department of Sociology and Social Studies researchers, a short section on these issues was also included.

As noted earlier, the Fall 1998 Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences again contained a diverse set of questions, but concentrated on social and political views and on issues related to ethnicity and multiculturalism.

Each time the survey has been conducted, the questionnaire and methods have changed in an attempt to improve the quality of the survey. For the first few times it was conducted, there were a considerable number of problems associated with questionnaire construction and representativeness of the survey. While the 1995 through 1998 design and results are not perfect, those who have been involved in these surveys feel that they provide data that are generally reliable and reasonably representative of University of Regina undergraduate students for the respective semesters the surveys were conducted. Click on Representativeness of the Survey for further details concerning the extent to which the survey represents the undergraduate population of University of Regina students.

4. Acknowledgements

Over the years, many people have contributed to the production of the survey. Students in Social Studies 306, students who filled out the questionnaires, and faculty who agreed to let us come into their classes to conduct the survey are most to be thanked. In the following paragraphs, I will try to give credit to everyone involved and hope that I do not leave anyone out. My apologies to anyone who is not mentioned below.

The students that participated in various versions of this project are Dawn Anderson, Joan Beirnes, Jason Buettner, Derek Bohn, Brad Burgess, Christina Burns, Jaime Carlson, Tricia Carnegie, Colin Ceulemans, Kendra Chorney, Sharon Coady, Duane Coghill, Mark Crawford, Tammy Culbertson, Cora Cyr, Tanya Doran, Andrea Duffie, Melanie Edmunds, Chad Eggerman, Christopher J. Fries, Laureen Gatin, Chris Haacke, Dennis Hall, Corrine Harris, Ron Hartt, Susan Hamilton, Stephen Hidasi, Bonnie Houston, Christopher Hunt, Stacey Ironside, Charlene Jones, Kevin Kemp, Donna Khadempour, Kelly Knoblauch, On Lam, Mark Laroque, Yvonne Larson, Jennifer Lasychuk, Christopher Leier, Daniel Lévis, Jennifer Lorenz, Leo MacDonald, Natasha MacDonald, Darcy Mantyka, Janel Matt, Dawn Morrison, Aaron Murray, Allison Nagy, Leslie Neilsen, Mark Nelson, Lee Anne Pedersen, Shirley Polasek, Sheryl Plysiuk, Warren Powers, Stephen Reichert, Debbie Ries, Pat Rokochy, Sandra Rollings-Magnusson, Kathleen Shewfelt, Annette Strom, Jason Tempke, Chris Tunison, Albert Wasacase, Zewei Yu, and Nicole Zimabaluk. Each of these students participated in a wide variety of activities involved in the project and together they did the bulk of the work that made the survey possible. Five of these students, Andrea Duffie, Kevin Kemp, Mark Nelson, Sandra Rollings-Magnusson, and Nicole Zimbaluk served as student assistants in semesters after they had taken the class. Sandra Rollings-Magnusson wrote a major section of the Manual prepared for the Winter 1996 semester. In 1996, Christopher J. Fries developed his own questionnaire for a survey he carried out as part of Social Studies 306 and as a Sociology Honours project. For the Winter, 1996 class, Derek Bohn conducted a supplementary survey of Cougar athletes, and in Fall, 1998, Leslie Neilsen organized and conducted a supplementary survey of students in University Extension programs.

Thanks to each of the professors who allowed us the chance to come into their classes. Originally the questionnaire was designed to be completed in ten minutes. However, in some classes it took close to double this time. In all cases, the class instructors were very cooperative so that the Survey was conducted with no major problems. I would like to thank the following professors: Ronni Abraham, Aminmohamed Adatia, Barrie Anderson, Paul Antrobus, Bill Asikinack, Barry Barlow, Norm Beirnes, Nadine Bouchardon, Dave Broad, Judy Chapman, Noel Chevalier, Ken Collyer, John Conway, Bruce Cooke, Elizabeth Cooper, Barbara deVlieger, Bill Ewart, Penny Farfan, Karen Finnsson, Gloria Geller, Barbara Gregory, Michael Hadjimichael, Bob Haennel, Mary Hampton, Alison Hayford, Steve Heeren, Bryan Hillis, Garson Hunter, Kathleen Irwin, Marie Iwaniw, Jack Katzberg, Cyril Kesten, Elisabeth Kim, Hélène Lapointe, Don Lee, Bruce Lobaugh, Cameron Louis, Marietta Maduro, Brien Maguire, Dave Malloy, Vernon McCarthy, Ian McDonald, Lynn Mihichuk, Pierre-Yves Mocquais, Chris Murray, Rob Nestor, Geoffrey Parslow, Donna Patterson, Richard Raum, Ian Rongve, Sam Sankaran, Dave Sauchyn, Erich Schellhammer, Eldon Soifer, William Stahl, John Stewart, Bob Stirling, Leesa Streifler, Jack Sures, Linda Sutherland, Gary Tompkins, Douglas Vandenberghe, Mary Vetter, Harold Weger, Terry Wu, Bernie Zagorin, and Dwight Zakus. In addition, the coaches of the 1996 Cougar athletic teams, Darwin Daae, James Hillis, Miles Kydd, Bill Liskowich, Leo McGee, and Christine Stapleton, along with Athletic Director Dick White, are to be thanked for assistance in coordinating the survey of Cougar athletes.

No results could have been obtained without the cooperation of the students who filled out the questionnaires and provided the information leading to the Survey results and analysis. All together, approximately 4,200 students have participated in the various versions of the survey. Practically all of the students who filled out the questionnaire appear to have done so conscientiously and thoughtfully. The students in Social Studies 306 and myself thank these 4,200 students for becoming respondents and giving us information about themselves.

For the 1994 and 1995 Surveys, the Office of Institutional Research at the University of Regina provided the registration and class information that we requested, and in 1996 through 1998 the Office of the Registrar and Computing Services provided comparable information. I would like to thank Heather Hegion, Alex Kelly, and Holger Kreek for providing the registration information that was necessary for us to conduct the surveys. In 1996 and 1997, Social Studies 306 students conducted telephone interviews with thirty undergraduates each year. Many thanks to the Sample Survey and Data Bank Unit, and especially to Pamela Smith, Director of the Unit, for reorganizing the 1994 through 1997 surveys for purposes of telephone interviewing and for supervising the telephone interviews. Thanks to the Human Subject Research Ethics Review Committee of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for reviewing and approving the project. Thanks to Printing Services at the University of Regina for printing and collating the questionnaires promptly and efficiently, and for printing this Manual. Thanks also to the Office of the Registrar for providing lists of student telephone numbers for the telephone interviews.

The Department of Sociology and Social Studies in the Faculty of Arts provided the institutional base for conducting the class and carrying out the Survey. Considerable financial resources were required for the printing of the questionnaires and reports, and I thank the Department and Faculty for providing these. Thanks to the secretaries, especially Cheryl Heinemann, for their cooperation.

Most of the materials on this web site were originally typed on my home computer and on various University of Regina computers using Word for Windows, converted to html format using Word 7, and then edited using the dos editor. Analysis of the data was carried out using SPSS for Windows, and diagrams have been produced using various combinations of Word for Windows, SPSS for Windows, and PaintShop Pro. It would probably not have been possible to carry out this Survey if we did not have access to a computer lab, and the Faculty of Arts makes the Social Sciences Computer Lab in CL109 available to us. Thanks also to Mark Haidl and Diane Haskewich of Computing Services and Pat Draper, Crystal Sterzer, and Scott of the Faculty of Arts for maintaining this lab and dealing with computer problems quickly and efficiently.

The initial establishment of this web site was made possible by the work of Chad Eggerman, one of the Social Studies 306 students. Mr. Eggerman, organized the 1997 Survey of Student Life for presentation on this web site. Thanks also to Randy Laughlin of Computing Services for assisting in the initial development of the web site. I have continued the further development of the web site, including adapting the results from the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences for the web site.

The Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage provided me with some funds for carrying out the Fall 1998 Survey. This eased the financial load on the Department of Sociology and Social Studies and I are grateful for this assistance. A fuller description of the research project funded by Canadian Heritage is contained in Understandings of Multiculturalism Among Students in a Multicultural Prairie City.

5. Conclusion

If you have any comments on or questions about the Survey, or suggestions for improving the Survey, I would like to hear from you. The data sets from the various surveys can be made available for research purposes.

 

Paul Gingrich
Department of Sociology and Social Studies
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
S4S 0A2

Office: CL 217
Telephone: 306-585-4196
Fax: 306-585-4815
e-mail: paul.gingrich@uregina.ca
URL: http://uregina.ca/~gingrich


This page last edited on December 31, 1998

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