North Carolina State University
2001-2002 Graduating Senior Survey:
Introduction, Methods, and Student Demographic Profile
(Report No. 2)

Introduction

This series of reports presents findings from the 2001-2002 Graduating Senior Survey at NC State. Students from all nine undergraduate academic units who graduated in December 2001 or May 2002 (AY01-02) are included. Survey topics include: student goals and intensions; academic environment and faculty contributions; campus climate; academic and non-academic services for students; NC State's contribution to student's knowledge, skills and personal development; and student employment and involvement in extracurricular activities.

This introductory report describes the survey’s methodology and provides a demographic profile of survey respondents in compasrison to AY01-02 graduates. Specifically, it compares the gender, race/ethnicity1, and academic unit of survey respondents with those characteristics of the AY01-02 graduates. A separate report, "2001-2002 Graduating Senior Survey: All Respondents," focuses on each individual survey topic. Tables with gender and racial/ethnic comparisons, as well as comparisons between colleges, are available on the web.

Survey Methods

Students planning on graduating in December 2001 or May 2002 were eligible to complete the Graduating Senior Survey, which was available on the web or on paper. Those graduating with more than one major could complete a survey only for their primary major, as defined by university records. Academic departments were responsible for choosing through which mode - web or paper - their graduates would take the survey (41 departments chose the web option, and 13 the paper). Departments were also responsible for informing their students about the survey and for distributing the paper version of it. Both "web" and "paper" departments typically connected the survey to the Application for Degree process. Some departments choosing the paper option administered it in a required senior seminar or during an exit interview. Office of Institutional Planning and Research staff provided departments information to follow-up with non-respondents.

Respondents (Table 2-1)

Of the 3,360 students who graduated in Fall 2001 or Spring 2002, 1980 (58.9%) completed and returned usable surveys. Overall, spring graduates were more likely than fall graduates to complete the survey. Those asked to do the paper version of the survey had a higher response rate than those asked to do it on the web.

Table 2-1: Response Rates by Semester and Survey Mode

Semester

Paper Survey Mode
  Web Survey Mode   Total Web & Paper Survey Mode
N Grads
N Resps
Resp Rate
 
N Grads
N Resps
Resp Rate
 
N Grads
N Resps
Resp Rate
December 2001
224

128

57.1%
 
1035

514

49.7%
  1259

642

51.0%
May 2002
327

231

70.6%
 
1774

1107

62.4%
  2101

1338

63.7%
Total
551

359

65.2%
 
2809

1621

57.7%
  3360

1980

58.9%

 

Analyses

The data obtained from survey respondents were analyzed using standard statistical methods2. These reports attempt to provide a level of detail that makes the data more accessible and interpretable to the user. A primary purpose is to highlight patterns found in responses to related question items or between comparison groups. Such consistencies among items or between groups are usually more important for understanding the data than are the sizes of the differences between individual pairs of ratings or ranks or, to some extent, whether the differences are statistically significant. While some individual small differences might actually be statistically significant, they may not be substantively meaningful. On the other hand, when even relatively small differences yield consistent patterns within a similar series of questions, the results are potentially more telling.

The margin of error for the senior survey is low – under 1 percent (+0.9) at a 95 percent confidence interval. That is, if 77.4 percent of the respondents said they would choose NC State again, we can be 95 percent sure that the true figure would be between 78.3 percent (77.4 + 0.9) and 76.5 percent (77.4 - 0.9) if all graduating seniors had responded to the survey3. The margin of error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements for various subgroups, such as the separate figures reported for whites and African Americans, are less precise than statements based on the total sample.

Demographics of the Senior Class and Survey Respondents

Gender and Race/Ethnicity (Table 2-2)

There are no significant gender or racial/ethnic differences between the AY01-02 graduating senior classes and those seniors who completed surveys. Women make up 43.6 percent of the senior class population, compared to 44.2 percent of the survey respondents. White students account for 83.4 percent of the senior population, 8.6 percent are African American, and 8.0 percent are other minorities. Among survey respondents, 84.8 percent are white, 7.9 percent African American, and 7.4percent other minorities.

Table 2-2: Demographics of the Graduating Senior Class and Survey Respondents

Racial/Ethnic Group

N
%

Senior Class
Survey Respondents
Female
Male
Total
Female
Male
Total
White
1179

35.1%
1625

48.4%
2804

83.4%
714

36.1%
965

48.7%
1679

84.8%
African American
165

4.9%
124

3.7%
289

8.6%
96

4.8%
60

3.0%
156

7.9%
Native American
7

0.2%
9

0.3%
16

0.5%
5

0.2%
6

0.3%
11

0.6%
Asian
71

2.1%
101

3.0%
172

5.1%
42

2.1%
55

2.8%
97

4.9%
Hispanic
42

1.2%
37

1.1%
79

2.4%
19

1.0%
18

0.9%
37

1.9%
Total 1464

43.6%
1896

56.4%
3360

100.0%
876

44.2%
1104

55.8%
1980

100.0%

 

Academic Unit (Table 2-3)

Table 2-3 shows enrollment of the combined AY01-02 graduating senior classes and survey respondents by academic unit. Most colleges are accurately represented in the survey, with similar proportions of survey respondents and graduating class members. However, due to their low response rates, College of Design and College of Textiles graduates are slightly underrepresented. In contrast, College of Engineering graduates are slightly overrepresented.

Table 2-3: Classification by Academic Unit

Academic Unit

Degrees Conferred

Survey Responses

Response Rate

N
%
N
%

Agriculture and Life Sciences

640 19.0% 354 17.9%
55.3%

Design

113 3.4% 14 0.7%
12.4%

Education and Psychology

76 2.3% 59 3.0%
77.6%

Engineering

866 25.8% 636 32.1%
73.4%

Natural Resources

133 4.0% 92 4.6%
69.2%

Humanities and Social Sciences

711 21.2% 446 22.5%
62.7%

Physical and Mathematical Sciences

147 4.4% 72 3.6%
49.0%

Textiles

164 4.9% 54 2.7%
32.9%

Management

510 15.2% 253 12.8%
49.6%

Total

3360

100.0%

1980

100.0%

58.9%



Endnotes:
1. The term "racial/ethnic" is used throughout these reports to recognize the potentially blurred distinction between the individual terms. In application materials students were requested to identify themselves using the following categories: Caucasian, African American or Black (not of Hispanic origin), Native American Indian or Alaskan, Asian or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic (Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish origin or culture, regardless of race). For analysis purposes, these categories were collapsed into "White," "African American," and "other minorities."(back)
2. In analyses not presented in these reports, responses were tested to determine whether there were significant differences between women and men, between white, African American, and other minority students, and between different colleges. Questions requiring categorical responses were analyzed with chi-square tests, and questions with numerically coded responses were analyzed with either T-tests or one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparison procedure. Complete results are available from University Planning and Analysis upon request. (back)
3. A 95 percent confidence interval denotes the range of values which contains the true population value in 95 out of 100 possible samples of the graduating senior population. Additionally, margins of error for individual questions are usually smaller than the given margin of error for the sample because the variance of proportions in each survey item is almost always less than the 50/50 figure used in calculating the confidence interval. Thus, the margin of error given is conservative. (back)


For more information on the 2001-2002 Graduating Senior Survey contact:
Dr. Nancy Whelchel, Associate Director for Survey Research
Office of Institutional Planning and Research
Box 7002
NCSU
Phone: (919) 515-4184
Email: Nancy_Whelchel@ncsu.edu

Posted: September 2002

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