Results of the 2013-2014 Needs Assessment

Campus Life fielded a needs assessment through Campus Labs to 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students in mid-November, 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 observed a 10.99% response rate, which is 66.50% higher than the 2012-13 response rate of 6.60%. We achieved a 81.01% completion rate. This is an increase in completion rate of 11% from the 2012-13 needs assessment.

Demographics

The sample consisted of approximately 68% undergraduate students, of which 17% were freshmen, and 32% graduate students, with a total number of doctoral students exceeding the total number of master’s students by approximately 20 students. This is an increase in number of undergraduate respondents by approximately 8% from the 2012-13 needs assessment. We observed a 3:2 female to male ratio again this year. More than 90% of the sample were full-time students and approximately 80% lived off campus. Students identified digital advertisements in the myLSU portal, word of mouth, social media, e-mails from specific interest groups, and posters in academic halls as their most influential and most frequently sought sources of information, with myLSU, word of mouth, and e-mail as the overwhelming favorites.

Involvement

Approximately 65% of students reported being involved on campus, and of the 35% who are not currently involved, more than 71% indicate they do or may plan to get involved in the future. Of the remaining 28% who are not involved and do not plan to get involved, most indicate a lack of time or interest, or prior academic commitments or prior commitments off-campus as reasons they are not involved. This is double the percentage of students who indicated they had were not involved and had no plans to become involved in the 2012-13 needs assessment. Approximately 57% of students have attended at least one Campus Life event or program this year. This is a decrease of 12% from the 2012-13 needs assessment responses. Additionally, about 26% of the 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

Results investigating level of interest in a variety of types of leadership programs remained unchanged between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 needs assessments, further signaling a need to shift program delivery (to the contrary, we have increased the number of these programs offered). 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, service/social action opportunities and mentorship programs.

Within these eight experiences, freshman responses to several experiences were of particular interest. Freshman responses to 2-4 day off-campus retreat; class/course credit; e-newsletter just for LSU students; and service or social action opportunities far exceeded the overall net positive response from undergraduates, by 9-22 percentage points. In fact, while 2-4 day off-campus retreat had a net negative response for undergraduates, it had a net positive response for freshmen; this data affirms changes in the Leading Edge program, which was a meeting-style leadership development program for first-year students and is now a topical, weekend overnight trip.

Service

Approximately 81% 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 market and develop programs based on the following most frequently reported reasons for participating in service programs: contribution to society, learn something new, class/course credit, career preparation or advancement, and the chance to meet new people. Again, the data continues to stress the need for further exploration of faculty/staff/administrator engagement in program delivery.

Student Success Outcomes (SSO)

Students were asked to identify things learned as a result of involvement and were given descriptive sentences that defined or gave an example of each student success outcome. Students were provided three sentences for each SSO so as to provide the best likelihood of reflecting the SSO description in ways that related to students. The following findings were observed (each is a total response percentage for the SSO):

SSO 2013-2014 Study 2012-2013 Study
Cognitive Complexity 20.37% 12.20%
Knowledge Acquisition 18.25% 14.50%
Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Competence2 17.50% 31.75%
Practical Competence 14.74% 23.00%
Persistence and Academic Achievement 14.30% 2.87%
Citizenship and Social Responsibility1 9.21% 15.64%

1 This SSO was selected for intense focus and concentrated learning in 2012-13.

2 This SSO was selected for intense focus and concentrated learning in 2013-14.

In comparing the two years’ data, it is difficult to identify any clear trends as data oscillates quite severely, and in no particular direction. Unfortunately, the only noticeable trend is that the 2013-14 percentages and placement position in listings provided to students are positively correlated. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, this question should be retested to determine how much response placement played in the selection of the response. For clearest results, future studies should provide responses in a random order that changes with each respondent.

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. Accommodate graduate students’ unique schedule availabilities, which are often very different from undergraduates’.
  • In an age of constant connectedness, we must find innovative ways to provide involvement information, event listings, registration, and resources.
  • We must reconsider the model of leadership development delivery to better suit students’ needs and preferred ways of receiving this type of programming.
  • Engage administrators, faculty, and staff and Academic Affairs in program delivery. Students report connection to degree program (80.87% very or moderately important), opportunity to meet faculty related to studies (80.57% very or moderately important), opportunity to network with LSU staff and administrators (73.09% very or moderately important), and extra credit for class (66.66% very or moderately important) as strong influences on whether a program is appealing. These findings were discovered again toward the end of the study when students were asked reasons for participating in service programs, were given similar responses, and selected these types of responses most frequently.
  • Further investigate why there was such a dramatic increase in the percentage of students who are not currently involved and who have no intention of becoming involved. Qualitative research could help uncover reasons behind their lack of interest in campus involvement opportunities. This provides a huge opportunity for increasing the overall involvement ratio on campus.
  • Approximately 17% of students who attended Campus Life events in the past have not yet attended events this year. This may be because the 2012-13 study was fielded in April and the 2013-14 study was fielded in November, leaving more time for a student to attend a program and more programs from which to choose. Nonetheless, explore further why these students have not attended a program yet during the 2013-14 school year and optimize marketing efforts to reach these students in the 2013-14 year and retain them year-to-year.
  • Reinforce that all Campus Life programs are free (except CHANGE Break).
  • Explore alternate assessment plans to differentiate Campus Life from the rest of LSU; Campus Life website from Simplicity and other LSU sites; and Campus Life orgs from other campus organizations.
  • Leverage early interest in involvement expressed by first-year students in their first semester. This interest and availability dramatically decreases even in the first-year student’s second semester.
  • Further train student leaders in “ambassadorship” for involvement. Help them have knowledge and skills to encourage peers, answer questions, and navigate Simplicity.
  • Draw students into service right away to fulfill their interest in on-campus service opportunities while they have not yet become involved in off-campus service opportunities and programs.