Special Studies

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Volume Number: Title (Date)

98-99 No. 06: The 1998 Freshmen (June 1999)
98-99 No. 05: Alumni 1998 (May 1999)
98-99 No. 04: Attrition Survey Proposal (March 1999)
98-99 No. 03: Admitted Student Questionnaire (March 1999)
98-99 No. 02: High School GPA to Centile Conversion (July 1998)
98-99 No. 01: Analysis of New Student Yields (June 1998)
97-98 No. 10: Annual Graduate Follow-up Survey (May 1998)
97-98 No. 09: Alumni Survey II (May 1998)
97-98 No. 08: University Day Survey (May 1998)
97-98 No. 07: Undergraduate Student Satisfaction (April 1998)
97-98 No. 06: Analysis of Placement Test Scores (February 1998)
97-98 No. 05: Impact of Scholarships on Retention and Performance (December 1997)
97-98 No. 04: Graduate Student Satisfaction (September 1997)
97-98 No. 03: Trend Analysis of New Freshmen (September 1997)
97-98 No. 02: Analysis of New Student Yields (July 1997)


CIRP Survey of 1998 Freshmen

98-99 - No. 6 - June 1999
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Freshmen students of the Fall 1998 class were surveyed as part of the student assessment effort by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning at Shippensburg University. The goal of this freshmen survey is to produce recurring data on the high school experiences, goals, attitudes, and decision-making processes of incoming freshmen. This data is then analyzed and the resulting report contributes to planning and evaluation processes on campus.

In some ways Shippensburg freshmen are typical of freshmen at other 4-year colleges. A majority of the freshmen enroll in college straight out of high school and come from public high schools. In other ways they are not typical. They are more likely to be of white racial background. Their parents are not as likely as parents of other freshmen to have obtained more than a high school diploma.

Shippensburg freshmen arrive on campus with some strengths and weaknesses. They are more likely to come well prepared in terms of coursework and grade point average during high school and this is reflected in their relatively higher self-rating of academic abilities. They are also more likely to target the bachelor’s degree as their highest educational goal. Despite having strengths in these areas, Shippensburg freshmen do not have as much confidence in themselves as other college freshmen.

Shippensburg University’s academic reputation is very appealing to many new freshmen. There are other, equally important reasons students choose Shippensburg. They include low tuition, job placement rate, and small size. Shippensburg students are not as interested in obtaining a general education as they are in getting a better job and making more money.


1998 Alumni Survey I

98-99 - No. 5 - May 1999
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Feedback from alumni yields outcomes data regarding services, academics, and post-graduation activities. Survey information allows for the measurement of participation rates in activities and organizations, the effectiveness of campus services, and personal growth during their education. Summaries of these data can be used to guide university planning efforts. Alumni provide a unique perspective, that of someone who has been in the workforce for three years. While this type of information does not capture more recent changes at the university, by comparing the perspectives of different alumni groups over time, it is possible to assess how changes in university resources impact students. This report focuses primarily on alumni from the class of 1995 while including responses from the classes of 1989, 1992, and 1993 for comparison.

Overall, Shippensburg University continues to be highly regarded by both undergraduate and graduate alumni. A greater number of alumni are continuing their education than in the past while undergraduate alumni felt that they were prepared for graduate school. Additionally, undergraduate alumni have an increasing participation rate in both professional and educational organizations. Over 97 percent of undergraduate and 98 percent of graduate alumni are employed full-time or furthering their education. A general increase in satisfaction with university services was found. In relation to satisfaction with academics, class size within courses, quality of instruction in major, and availability of faculty remained favorable for both alumni groups. Undergraduate alumni reported that the university was more adequately meeting alumni demands in the areas of leadership, time management, interpersonal, and concern for the environment. Decreases in disparity score were found in a few areas for graduate alumni.

Opportunities for improvement do exist. Both undergraduate and graduate alumni reported somewhat rates of participation in alumni events and programs. The scheduling process and the career development center continue to receive low satisfaction ratings from 1995 alumni while scheduling classes and changing majors are top reasons reported by undergraduates for taking longer than four years to graduate. Nearly one of four undergraduate alumni reported dissatisfaction with general education courses while the importance since graduation of the areas of general education rated low. Graduate alumni reported significant dissatisfaction with instructional facilities and equipment and with the availability and variety of courses.


Attrition Survey

98-99 - No. 4 - March 1999
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The topic of retention is one of the greatest areas of interest in research in higher education. Every year, institutions actively investigate retention through the use of progress records, surveys, interviews and other forms of assessment. With the increasing popularity of the Internet, colleges and universities across the United States are more eager than ever to share information regarding their student retention plans. They are less enthusiastic about discussing the other side of retention known as attrition. A review of thirty college web pages yielded only one mention of attrition. This mention came in the form of a no-longer active college exit survey administered to vacating students. The instrument was designed with the perspective that students leave because there is something inherently wrong with them. This individualistic perspective, along with the overall lack of Internet postings regarding attrition, illustrates the problem that exists: attrition is a difficult and complex issue. More specifically, institutions would rather focus attention on the seemingly positive topic of retention and away from the seemingly negative topic of attrition. At Shippensburg University, a variety of post-departure instruments have been contracted out or designed in-house by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning to study attrition. The instruments have evolved from a multiple sheet inventory, to a two-question survey, to most recently a 30 item rating scale with an option for open-ended responses. All of the instruments have followed a method of studying attrition known as the autopsy method (surveying an exiting student after s/he has departed) and produced similar and limited results. Due to low response rates, these results have not been representative of the departing populations. Autopsy studies deal with information gathered after the student has left; however, it is often difficult to track down students. Once located, it is difficult to ensure responses from the students. It may be interesting to review the responses received, but it is not very informative of the group as a whole and often provides a skewed or unrealistic picture.

Attrition has been a popular topic among researchers for quite some time. Many theories exist regarding student development and with that, attrition. Most notably, there is Tinto’s model for student attrition. This model, which has been validated and replicated several times over, incorporates a variety of factors which researchers have found influence student development. It begins by taking into account a student’s background, individual attributes and pre-college schooling. From there, it suggests that in order for a student to be satisfied at college, they must have success in two areas: academic integration and social integration. Academic integration includes what Tinto refers to as goal commitments, grade performance, and intellectual development. Social integration refers to institutional commitments, peer-group interactions, and faculty interactions. Success in these areas leads to a re-evaluation of commitments (goal and institutional) and subsequently either the desire to persist or the desire to leave. Tinto stresses that it is necessary for institutions to understand that attrition may occur for a variety of reasons. While some of these reasons may stem from academic difficulty, dissatisfaction or adjustment issues, they could just as easily come from unique goals and commitments on the part of the student. A student who attends a four year institution for two years of that four, may do so because his/her goal was to accomplish particular requirements and then move on. If this student has successfully completed his/her objective, departure should be viewed in a positive rather than negative way. While the student did not graduate, the school did serve the student’s needs and therefore the interaction can be viewed as successful.

Implementation Feasibility. With regard to time, the autopsy model produces results most quickly. Since the model only requires the production and administration of a single form, the time involved is minimal. On the other hand, while this form is simple to produce and send out, receiving feedback from it is not. The autopsy model is criticized for having low levels of representativeness due to low response rates. Higher response rates are attainable with other models. Current research cites that while autopsy studies yield a 15% to 40% response rate, cross-sectional studies may yield a 55% to 80% response rate and longitudinal studies a 40% to 60% response rate. With a more successful response rate than the autopsy model, the cross-sectional model also relies on a single form. However, it takes more time to receive and interpret results from the cross-sectional model. With the cross-sectional design, before reviewing the results, it is necessary to wait a year so that departure status can be confirmed (determine whom, out of those tested, is staying versus whom is leaving). Finally, the longitudinal models require the greatest amount of production, administration, and interpretation. The depth of data obtained and connectibility of information to other data sources remain significant advantages of the longitudinal method. Ultimately, the longitudinal study provides a greater quantity and quality of information if resources exist to conduct adequate longitudinal research.

Cost. In most cases, the autopsy model is the least costly of the three models. In comparison, the autopsy model has a small sample size that translates into lower production costs. At the same time, the model examines students after they have left thus includes mailing costs. The cross-sectional model is the second least costly, with some additional costs as sample size increases. Administration occurs while the student is still enrolled and therefore does not incur any postage fees. Like the cross-sectional model, the longitudinal model employs larger sample sizes and consequentially costs more. While the use of multiple scales also adds to this cost, the scales are all administered while the student is still enrolled and therefore does not generate any additional postal fees (while insuring a higher response rate). It is important to bear in mind that a relationship exists between the cost and the effectiveness of the information generated; generally, as cost increases, so does the effectiveness of the information gathered.

Potential Impact. Putting the issue of cost aside, there is the issue of impact. There are numerous considerations involved when looking for the most effective model. It is clear that there are advantages and disadvantages involved in tracking students for four years versus one year. It is also clear that it is desirable to have as much information about a student as possible, so that reasonable assessments can be made. With this in mind, the inherent weaknesses of the autopsy and cross-sectional models come to light. By limiting available information to data gathered from single assessments very little analysis can take place. Single assessments and low response rates do not create the quantity or quality of data necessary to calculate accurate pictures of attrition. At best, these measures scrape the surface; at worst they provide a picture which is unrealistic and unrepresentative. Over time, the more comprehensive data generated from a longitudinal model can provide more accurate information as well as trends that show existing institutional strengths and weaknesses.

Recommended Model. With the merits for each model outlined above, it is clear that the more information gathered, the greater the ability to assess and potentially intervene in attrition. While it would be wise to continue with the autopsy model as a way to survey those students who leave the university, it is more important to augment the assessment plan with more current and comprehensive cross-sectional or longitudinal methods. For Shippensburg University, longitudinal models offer the most effective and least costly results. The only readily apparent drawback linked to these models is their potential drain on resources. To effectively implement the longitudinal method, there should be an addition of an instrument to the current assessment plan that incorporates the ASIS. This will be administered to new students near the end of their freshman year and again to juniors in the spring semester. Data generated from these scales will provide measures of integration from the first year that can then be compared with measures from the third year with specific attention being focussed on factors which exist for those who stay versus those who leave. Additionally, the data will be analyzed in conjunction with information generated from scales that are already a part of the current assessment plan. Scales such as the CIRP, NLSSI and CSEQ provide further measures that include the topics of personal background, social and academic support services, career and educational goals, all of which are known to impact attrition. By choosing to update current practices for studying attrition, Shippensburg University is clearly acknowledging the importance and complexity of this topic. Further, by augmenting the assessment plan, the university asserts not only knowledge of this topic’s importance but also a commitment to its study.


Admitted Student Questionnaire

98-99 - No. 3 - March 1999
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The Admitted Student Questionnaire (ASQ) was designed by the College Board with the intent of providing colleges and universities with additional information regarding marketing and admissions. Specifically, the ASQ focuses on the attractiveness of the university in a number of areas to students with offers of admission and the effectiveness of admissions programs. Additional comparisons are made between students that did and did not enroll and among competitor universities. The following report summarizes results from a recent administration of the ASQ and extracts university strengths and weaknesses found in the data.

The ASQ was administered to 3412 students admitted to the Fall 1998 semester. The ASQ was distributed to 1212 enrolling students and 2200 non-enrolling students. A total of 1481 students returned the instrument for a response rate of 43%. The ASQ is composed of 90 items categorized into four primary areas: college characteristics, options, information sources, and cost/financial aid. There are also items that collect general demographics. Regarding college characteristics and options, two responses are required of participants. First the importance of the characteristic is asked followed by a comparison of "this" to "other" colleges. This comparison between Shippensburg University and its competitors is continued in the topics of information sources (how prospective students learn about the university) and cost and financial aid. An additional section asks participants to select from a list those words that they believe are widely held images of the university. The ASQ concludes with demographic items and comment space focused on the admissions program (results are summarized in Appendix A). The ASQ was administered to all enrolling freshmen during the Fall Orientation in August 1998. The method produced a 100% response rate. The ASQ was mailed to all admitted applicants that did not confirm attendance; only 12% of this group responded via the mail. The results were processed by the College Board and returned to the university.

Shippensburg University successfully attracts students. The university continues to meet its access mission. Minorities show high rates of acceptance and trends show the university provides opportunities for students of lower income and grade performance given adequate assessment of their potential success. Prospective students perceive the university to be attractive in appearance, low in cost, with accessible faculty compared to our competitors. Particularly, the quality of social life and faculty give us an advantage. Admitted students view the university to be comfortable, friendly, and provide opportunities for a fun social life. The marketing plan appears to function with on-campus interviews and personal contact among the most successful strategies. All of this leads to high "win" rates for students when competing with certain universities.

Findings of this study resonate with currently held perceptions of the university's attractiveness and marketing. The study suggests that there are opportunities for improvement when data are benchmarked against our competition. Perceptions exist in the pool of potential students that the university is less challenging and exciting than other campuses and is somewhat isolated. Other perceptions are that the university provides poor access to off-campus activities and some student's homes. Many prospective students rate the surroundings less positively than other campuses. Reduced contact with coaches and staff and faculty from the colleges during marketing may have exacerbated these problems. In particular, the results indicate that the university is disadvantaged when competing with certain universities.


High School GPA to Centile Conversion

98-99 - No. 2 - July 1998
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High schools are using a variety of strategies to ensure the competitiveness of the their students when they apply to college. Some high schools are no longer reporting class rank and class size information, others do not provide grade point averages, while still others, provide even less comparable data. This impacts Shippensburg University by adding to the complexity of fairly comparing students in the admission decision process. SU employs Centile and SAT score among other things to gauge the quality of the freshmen class and individual applicants. This study determines the most error free method of converting high school grade point average to Centile when class rankings are not provided.

A prior study compared four strategies in terms of the prediction of decile based on HS GPA. Two strategies were based on curve fitting procedures, another utilized a discriminant analysis, and the final strategy involved a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to examine differences in HSGPA among decile groups. Results showed that the first four deciles had distinct HSGPA distributions. Below the fifth decile, however, the HS GPA distributions had considerable overlap. Because of this overlap, the four methods produced very different predictions. When all ten deciles were compared, the quadratic and linear methods produced the least error. Both the discriminant function and confidence interval method produced moderate error. When only the first five deciles were compared, the confidence interval method produced the least error (by a considerable amount). While all methods tended to underestimate the actual decile ranks, the confidence interval method provided the best estimation. This study resulted in a conversion matrix that has been used by the admissions office for the past four years. The office asked that Institutional Research and Planning update the matrix.

Data were compiled for the analysis by extracting applicants from the 976 and 986 admission records. To ensure accurate prediction, it was important to have all ranges of Centile represented. Twenty-five applicants from each of the ten Centile ranges (deciles) were included from each of the two years. That produced a sample of 500 applicants with 50 in each decile. The name and student IDs were give to admissions who extracted HSGPAs from the students' records. A master data file was produced that included Centile, HSGPA, and other relevant data. The first step was to again compare the errors associated with the variety of conversion methods. The results were consistent with prior analyses with the interval method producing lower overall error across deciles than the linear, quadratic, or discriminant functions.

A new method was considered for this study. It was possible to develop a categorical variable comprised of 13 HSGPA intervals. Linear regressions were used to produce prediction equations for each of the 13 intervals. Using these separate equations, the cumulative error between the predicted Centile and the actual Centile was computed. These error rates were very low in all Centile ranges and, in total, were much lower than any of the prior methods. It was decided that this interval linear prediction method would be used to build a new conversion matrix. It may be useful to review the SPSS syntax used for these analyses.

One problem still existed. The maximum and minimum predicted values at the ends of the intervals would overlap producing inconsistent results. One solution was to reduce the number of intervals from 13 to 6, thus reducing the number of overlap regions from 12 to 5. To solve the problem of these five overlap regions, the maximum and minimum values for each interval were analyzed. In order to align the intervals, the coefficients and constants of the regression functions were adjusted. The equations were entered into the final matrix based on each interval (see Appendix B). It was found that only one overlap existed; the predicted Centile for a HSGPA of 2.20 was 0.72 while the predicted Centiles for HSGPAs of 2.21 and 2.19 were both 0.71. The Centile for HSGPA of 2.20 was adjusted to 0.71. The final conversion matrix was forwarded to the Admissions Office to be put into service.


Analysis of New Student Yields

98-99 - No. 1 - June 1998
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Two types of students apply for admission to Shippensburg University, freshmen and transfer. A number of these applicants are admitted, some of those admitted confirm and even fewer enroll. The admission yield proves useful to those involved in enrollment management and recruitment. It shows how many students had to be recruited in the past to have one enrolled student. This information can serve as a guideline or predictor throughout the enrollment management process.

Data for freshmen and transfer students were extracted from the student database. These variables were: Applied (individuals who completed the application process during the last seven fall semesters, 1991 through 1997); Admitted (applicants who were offered admission); Confirmed (applicants who were admitted, did not cancel and paid a confirmation fee); and Enrolled (students who were enrolled through the fall freeze date). The ratio of enrolled to admitted students is the yield rate. The yield multiplier is the number of applicants that must be admitted in order to have one enrolled student. It was calculated based on an average of the last seven fall semesters.

About one third of the admitted freshmen in the past seven fall semesters were enrolled which produced a yield multiplier of 2.75 for the university. The College of Education and Human Services had the highest yield rate (42.8%) with a yield multiplier of 2.34. The yield multipliers of all departments ranged from a high of 3.41 for the Speech Department to a low of 2.26 for the Geography/Earth Science, History, Criminal Justice, and Social Work Departments.

The university yield rate for transfer students over the past seven fall semesters is 60.8% with a yield multiplier of 1.64. Both the College of Business and Education and Human Services had the highest yield (65.2%, multiplier 1.53) for transfer students. Overall, the enrollment rate was lower for freshmen than for transfer students. A larger number of prospective freshmen need to be admitted (2.75) than prospective transfer students (1.64) to have one enrolled student. The percentage of admitted students has grown over the past seven years. For the university, 55.9% of the freshmen were admitted in 1991 compared to 68.7% in 1997. The English Department had the highest admission rate (86.0 %) and the Teacher Education Department had the lowest (54.2%) in 1997. The percentage of freshmen confirmations for the university declined from 41.7% in 1991 to 36.6% in 1997.


Annual Graduate Follow-up Survey

97-98 - No. 10 - May 1998
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In 1997, the State System of Higher Education undertook a study to collect information from recent baccalaureate graduates of the 14 State System of Higher Education universities. A survey was administered, focusing on the academic experiences and current activities of individuals who graduated from Pennsylvania's State System universities in December 1995, May 1996, and August 1996.

Alumni responses indicated that both SU and system-wide alumni were pleased with the education and preparation they received, with SU being rated higher on all elements of the educational experience and its impact on skills than the overall system. SU alumni rated all skills as more important than did their system-wide counterparts; furthermore, responses indicated that SU impacted these skills more substantially than the system universities. When gap scores were calculated based on the difference between importance and impact scores, SU showed smaller gap scores than the system-wide institutions, indicating that SU did an above average job of meeting the needs of its former students.

Nearly one fourth of all the alumni were involved in further education. Both alumni groups felt that their universities prepared them more than adequately for their subsequent education, with SU alumni giving their university higher ratings along this dimension than system-wide alumni.

Placement rates for both groups of alumni were very high (96.3%). Almost two thirds of alumni in both groups were employed in their field of study. SU and system-wide alumni took about the same amount of time to attain their first job after graduation, and salaries for members of both groups were about the same. Again, SU alumni rated their university higher than those system-wide concerning preparation for employment.

SU alumni also reported higher levels of satisfaction than their SSHE counterparts with the quality of education they received at their university.


Alumni Survey II

97-98 - No. 9 - May 1998
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The Alumni Survey II was designed to collect data from alumni who graduated 20 years prior to the survey. The participants consisted of both graduate and undergraduate alumni from the classes of 1976 and 1977 from Shippensburg University. The alumni were surveyed regarding their level of education, involvement in activities and organizations, the degree of importance and level of impact SU had on various personal skills, satisfaction with and improvement of their college experience, career choice and satisfaction, overall rating of SU, and strengths and weaknesses of SU. The information obtained will be incorporated into the university's assessment and future planning of various components of its educational process and services.

The majority of the 20-year alumni hold a Master's degree, and one-quarter of those with Bachelor's degrees plan to continue their education. Of those who plan to go on, about one-third responded that they would be interested in continuing their education at SU. As a whole, the respondents were very satisfied with their careers and most felt that SU had adequately prepared them for their careers. The alumni expressed high satisfaction with the quality of instruction in their major, the usefulness of major courses, class size, and availability of faculty.

Regarding involvement since graduation, alumni were active in reading VISTA, keeping in contact with former classmates, belonging to professional organizations, and participating in community services. Fewer alumni reported involvement in alumni committees or alumni events. Alumni considered decision-making, time management, reading, teamwork, writing, leadership, interpersonal, and independence as the most important skills since graduation. They reported that SU had significant impact on them in those areas.

A large number of alumni reported that they would take an internship and more technology courses if they could relive their college experience. Few would choose another college or university and fewer would not go to college at all. The alumni suggested that SU take a more practical approach to education. Overall, however, the alumni cited many of the university's strengths, including its good, friendly, and safe atmosphere, its great reputation, and the life-long friendships and relationships they established while here.


University Day Survey

97-98 - No. 8 - May 1998
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The purpose of this research was to measure several aspects regarding the success and process of University Day. These aspects included the perceived level of satisfaction, the type of student that attended, and how the day related to classroom experiences. Additionally, new ideas for future University Day events and activities were collected. Participants targeted for this survey included students who attended University Day. A one page structured survey containing 18 items was used. University Day, Wednesday, April 8th, 1998 was a cloudy day with intermittent rain. Although actual turnout is unknown, 254 surveys were completed and included in this analysis. The results yielded information relevant to four areas of inquiry.

It was found that the students most likely to attend University Day were Junior or Senior class females who lived on campus or in town and were enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences. Freshmen, sophomores, and graduate students were less likely to attend. Distance to the university may have impacted attendance, as commuters were also less likely to attend. Surprisingly, students who lived in town attended at a higher rate than expected. Attendance appeared to have lagged in Undeclared students and those from the College of Education and Human Services. The largest numbers of attendees were from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business while the Psychology, Chemistry, and Communications departments had large numbers of attendees.

The results that participants were extremely satisfied with the activities and level of participation at the events. Many participants, however, suggested that more students, and to a lesser degree more faculty, should have attended. Additionally, 43% of the respondents indicated that they were required to attend and 25% did so to receive extra credit. The results showed that those who attended University Day felt it added to the educational experience beyond the classroom. More than three-quarters of all respondents reported that University Day provided them with an opportunity to interact with faculty and to discuss learning with friends and classmates in ways beyond that which are typical in the classroom. Furthermore, 95% of participants indicated that they were given the opportunity to learn in ways that they do not in class. The qualitative data obtained from open-ended questions generated ideas for future University Day events and cited ways in which attendees benefited from the experience.


Undergraduate Student Satisfaction

97-98 - No. 7 - April 1998
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College students hold numerous expectations about their college experience. Understanding the expectations of students and their degree of satisfaction with college life can prove useful to those interested in improving the college experience of students. This report describes the important aspects of college life according to students at Shippensburg University and the amount of satisfaction they have with each aspect. The third administration of the Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) took place during the Fall semester of 1997. The list of SSI participants was constructed from official enrollment files. Packets including the SSI were sent to the students’ departmental office with instructions for distribution to the students with their spring course registration materials. To increase interest and remind students to complete the instrument, advertisements were placed in the student newspaper and played on the campus radio station. During course scheduling, a table was set up in McLean Hall where participants could return their instruments. As incentive, a drawing was held for a $50.00 gift certificate based on all returned surveys with student IDs.

While all areas were important to students, the most important to undergraduates were Academic Advising, Instructional Effectiveness, and Safety and Security. The least important areas to both SU undergraduates and students nationally were Campus Life and Recruitment and Financial Aid. The SSI results reveal that SU students generally have expectations that are similar to students nationally. One possible exception to this pattern would be in the area of Student Centeredness: SU students appear to place more importance on this area than other students. Undergraduates were most satisfied with Instructional Effectiveness, Academic Advising, and Student Centeredness. Compared to students nationally, the data show that SU students reported significantly greater levels of satisfaction across nearly all areas. Students rated SU significantly above the norm in satisfaction in the areas of Student Centeredness and Concern for the Individual. Performance gaps are areas where satisfaction lags behind student expectations. The largest gaps were in Safety and Security and Registration Effectiveness. These gaps were found in 1995 as well. Improvements (lower gaps this year than in 1995) were observed in Safety and Security, Recruitment and Financial Aid, and Academic Advising; specifically, the improvements were due to gains in satisfaction levels. Looking at the data item by item, SU generally outperforms similar universities at meeting student expectations.

There were 182 sophomore and 239 senior responses. Differences between the two groups were very slight. Sophomores reported that Recruitment and Financial Aid was somewhat more important to them than it was to seniors. Seniors showed somewhat higher satisfaction levels, particularly with Academic Advising, Campus Climate, Concern for the Individual, Instructional Effectiveness, Recruitment and Financial Aid, and Student Centeredness. These results could be interpreted in several ways. First, they could indicate that the longer students stay at SU, the more satisfied they become. Second, they might reveal that dissatisfied students leave before they become seniors. More analysis of the data is needed to reach a definite conclusion. Finally, the results may reveal that services are provided differently to students at different levels. Data from the Graduate Satisfaction Survey may support this third possibility.


Analysis of Placement Test Scores

97-98 - No. 6 - February 1998
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This study investigated the relationships among high school performance indicators, placement test scores, and college achievement in basic skills courses. Presently the placement testing consists of the Descriptive Test of Mathematics Skills, the Nelson Denny Reading Test, and a topic writing essay. Related literature showed moderate relationships between the SAT I math or verbal to the corresponding placement test and moderate relationships between course grades and grade performance in high school. The possibility exists of using the SAT I as a possible pre-screen for the placement tests.

The results of this study show that there are strong enough relationships among SAT I scores and placement test scores to warrant the pre-screening of students. This pre-screening would reduce the number of students who need to be placement tested by establishing minimum SAT cut scores. It is likely that the number of students requiring placement tests using pre-screening may be as much as one-third to one-half lower than presently.

Based on the results, it is not recommended that the SAT I math and verbal scores be used to entirely replace placement testing. Doing so may result in students being incorrectly placed. Future studies could allow for the relationship among the SAT II and current placement tests to be determined. In addition, the tests could be equated to yield comparisons between cut points on the present placement tests and the SAT II.


Impact of Scholarships on Retention and Performance

97-98 - No. 05 - December 1997
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This study assessed the effect of scholarship awards on new students' grade performance and retention behavior. Prior research has generally shown that scholarships are more beneficial in recruiting students than in retaining them. The participants for this study were all students who enrolled at Shippensburg University in the 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996 Fall semesters. Variables in the study included total aid and total merit scholarship packages, financial aid, grade point averages, and enrollment patterns in subsequent years. Demographics included student ability indicators, sex, ethnicity, admission category, and financial aid category.

The results showed that students who received financial aid were similar to the total student population but students who received merit scholarships are very different showing higher ability measures, being more likely female and more likely minority. In turn, they showed significantly higher GPAs and significantly higher retention. Retention was mostly affected by the student's ability level and freshman year grade point average. Financial aid and scholarship did not predict retention to any significant degree. It was found that the freshman year is critical to retention in later years; beyond the necessary successful academic performance, the amount of both financial aid and amount of scholarships in the freshman year had some influence on retention into the fourth year.

It is evident from this study that considerable selection occurs in the awarding of merit scholarships. Observed increases in retention and GPA were most likely due to this awarding pre-selection and were not likely due the actual scholarship award. While the exact impact of scholarships on academic performance or retention cannot be determined, there is some indication that financial aid can help keep students at Shippensburg University.

Scholarship and grant aid can be most useful when given early in the prospective student's decision process and in amounts that compete with the total cost packages at other universities also in the student's consideration. This study suggests that continued aid might be important to students who originally received aid upon enrolling. Four-year packaging of competitive scholarships and grants may be the best strategy in addressing both the quality and retention of new students.


Graduate Student Satisfaction

97-98 - No. 04 - September 1997
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Customer satisfaction is a primary indicator of institutional effectiveness. This study was designed to measure the satisfaction level of graduate students. A random selection of graduate courses was drawn from the student database that ensured an adequate sample size. A total of 400 students were administered the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI); 307 responded yielding a response rate of 77%. Three comparison groups were used in this study including undergraduates at SU, all students from public institutions in the SSI database, and all graduate students from public, 4-year institutions in the SSI database.

Graduate students reported that the most important areas were Academic Advising and Instructional Effectiveness. Specifically, high satisfaction was reported regarding the availability and knowledge of the faculty, students' intellectual growth, and the maintenance of the campus. In general, graduate students reported higher levels of satisfaction than did undergraduate students. They were particularly more satisfied with Academic Advising, Registration Effectiveness, and Safety and Security. A number of items had significantly low satisfaction ratings. In particular, the use of the student activity fee, campus parking, and accessibility to campus services were noted.

Comparison to norms is important to benchmark performance. Students at Shippensburg University report greater satisfaction than did students at similar institutions. Student Centeredness and Concern for the Individual were examples and other areas such as Safety and Security, Campus Climate, and Instructional Effectiveness were nearly as high. That students' expectations are being met is evidenced by lower performance gaps than those at other institutions on all scales. The greatest advantages over the competition were in the areas of Student Centeredness and Campus Climate. Based on student ratings, SU is far ahead of its competitors in the safety and security of the campus and in the caring and helpful way staff interact with graduate students. SU is considerably behind the competition, however, in the perceived use of activity fees, accessibility of computer labs, and the orientation process for graduate students.


CIRP Trends

97-98 - No. 03 - September 1997
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The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) has collected data on new college freshmen for over 30 years. Shippensburg University first participated in 1975 and has since administered the Student Information Form to new freshmen regularly. Primarily, the CIRP focuses on the backgrounds, attitudes, activities, self-perceptions, values, expectations, and goals of new college students. Given the consistency of numerous items on the CIRP, longitudinal analyses are possible. This study capitalizes on this advantage by viewing trends in Shippensburg's freshmen in comparison to national norms from 1975, 1980, 1985, 1991, and 1996.

Demographically, new students were found to come to Shippensburg from increasingly greater distances over time but less so than students at comparable institutions. Students' parents are more highly educated and generally show higher incomes. Behaviors such as attending religious services and volunteer work showed near stability over time. It is notable however, that while alcohol consumption has moderated over time, usage of tobacco has increased. Shippensburg's freshmen reported higher consumption of both than did freshmen nationally.

Students in both the national and Shippensburg samples reported increased feelings of being overwhelmed while at the same time self-ratings of emotional health were on the decline. Other indicators of self-evaluation showed growth in such areas as writing and overall academic abilities. In most cases, Shippensburg's freshmen rated themselves lower in abilities than freshmen nationally, an interesting point given the high retention and academic success of the same students.

In general, the political views of new students at Shippensburg have been relatively moderate and have moved to the right. Nevertheless, students tend to more highly favor national health care, abortion, and the legalization of marijuana while at the same time show decreasing support for laws prohibiting homosexual relationships.

Increasingly, students at Shippensburg and nationally go to college to become financially well off. They also give high importance to raising a family. Shippensburg remains attractive to new students and competitive because of its good academic reputation.


Analysis of New Student Yields

97-98 - No. 02 - July 1997
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Two types of students apply for admission to Shippensburg University, freshmen and transfer. A number of these applicants are admitted, some of those admitted confirm and even fewer enroll. The admission yield proves useful to enrollment management and recruitment. It shows how many students had to be recruited in the past to yield one enrolled student. This information can be a guideline during the enrollment management process.

About one third of the admitted freshmen in the past six fall semesters were enrolled which produced a yield multiplier of 2.81 for the university. The College of Education and Human Services had the highest yield rate (42.8%) with a yield multiplier of 2.34. The yields of all departments ranged from a high of 4.14 to a low of 2.20. The university yield rate for transfer students over the past six fall semesters was 60.6% with a yield multiplier of 1.65. The College of Business had the highest yield (65.7%, multiplier 1.52) for transfer students. Overall, the enrollment rate was lower for freshmen than for transfer students.

A larger number of prospective freshmen need to be admitted (2.81) than prospective transfer students (1.65) to yield one enrolled student. The percentage of admitted students has grown over the past six years. For the university, 55.9% of the freshmen were admitted in 1991 compared to 71.7% in 1996. The percentage of confirmations for the university declined from 41.7% in 1991 to 33.1% in 1996.