Results of the 2012-2013 Needs Assessment

Campus Life fielded a needs assessment through Campus Labs to 8,770 undergraduate and graduate students in mid-April, with a one-month term in field. The invitation to participate was sent through a Campus Labs-administered e-mail, with four follow-up e-mail reminders. We also included three incentives to increase participation and completion rates. We achieved a 72.67% response rate.

Demographics

The sample consisted of approximately 60% undergraduate students, of which 10% were freshmen, and 40% were graduate students, which were almost evenly split between master’s and doctoral students. We observed a 3:2 female to male ratio. More than 90% of the sample were full-time students, approximately 80% lived off campus, and approximately 20% were first generation college students. These students identified word of mouth, social media, e-mails from specific interest groups and the LSU Broadcast Center, posters in academic halls, announcements in class, and digital advertisements in the myLSU portal as their most influential and most frequently sought sources of information.

Involvement

Approximately 60% of students reported being involved on campus, and of the 40% who are not currently involved, almost 70% indicate they do or may plan to get involved in the future. Of the remaining 12% who are not involved and do not plan to get involved, most indicate a lack of time or interest, or prior academic commitments as reasons they are not involved. Approximately 65% of undergraduates have attended at least one Campus Life event or program this year, as compared to approximately 43% of graduate students. Additionally, about 33% of the undergraduate sample has been specifically involved in one of Campus Life’s six organizations (Kitchens on the Geaux, Geaux BIG Baton Rouge, Volunteer LSU, Student Activities Board (SAB), Leading Streak, Homecoming).

Leadership

Of the types of experiences offered, several were “lopsided,” whereby the net negative (responses of “not interested at all” or “slightly interested”) was stronger than the net positive (responses of “moderately interested” or “very interested”). Experiences receiving this response were 2-4 day off-campus retreat, half-day on-campus retreat, webinar/online workshop, and student-led workshops. This response is congruent with increased strain in meeting registration goals for those of these options we have offered in the past. Some experiences received the opposite, a net positive response, including inspirational speaker or speaker series, position in an organization, class or course credit, and mentorship programs.

Within these eight experiences, freshman responses to several experiences were of particular interest. Freshman responses to inspirational speaker or speaker series; e-newsletter just for LSU students; service or social action opportunities; and mentorship programs far exceeded the overall net positive response from undergraduates, by 5-9 percentage points. This may be an area of new focus. 

We must reconsider the model of leadership development delivery to better suit students’ needs and preferred ways of receiving this type of programming.

Service

Approximately 80% of undergraduates either are interested in participating in service, or already serve through university-sponsored volunteer programs. Another 20% of those who indicated they do not currently serve through LSU-sponsored programs indicated that they serve through off-campus volunteer programs. We should continue to foster a spirit of service and humanitarianism, and further encourage on-campus volunteerism by marketing the benefits of on-campus service (convenience, ability to network/make friends, potential connection to academic programs and requirements) to those who are serving off-campus.

Areas of Opportunity

  • A majority of students expressed interest in obtaining extra credit for involvement activities or would like to see their involvement tied to topics or skills in their academic major or intended career.
  • As a department, we do not place enough emphasis on graduate students, non-traditional students, and online/distance learners. These populations indicate an interest in our programs, but also report feeling that they do not know their place in the involvement dynamic.
  • In an age of constant connectedness, we must find innovative ways to provide involvement information, registration, and resources digitally.
  • There is a huge opportunity to better communicate with students about involvement opportunities and programs. Dozens of students requested organized weekly e-mail messages, proactive notification, calendaring, and improved web presence in open-ended responses to questions about involvement-related communications.

Satisfaction with and Understanding of Campus Life

  • Approximately 75% of undergraduates and 70% of the total sample indicated they strongly or moderately agree that they would refer Campus Life programs or organizations to their friends or classmates. This is the closest measure of satisfaction we make to date; because maintaining 50% or more satisfaction with Campus Life is a significant part of our strategic plan, we will continue to measure this and other indicators of satisfaction.
  • When asked to select as many as four words associated with Campus Life, the four most frequently selected words were: “involvement” (-30%) “leadership” (-21%), “student activities” (-30%), or “student organizations” (-27%). Of the approximate 10% of students who indicated that they had never heard of Campus Life, the most popular selection was “I am not sure how to differentiate LSU Campus Life from LSU Student Life” (-39% of 10% or 3.9% of total sample), followed by “student activities” (-34%), involvement” (-33%), and “student organizations (-24%). Our name is well understood.