Members of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee gathered Thursday morning to discuss updates on the recent civic literacy survey given out to Boiler Gold Rush students as well as the BoilerConnect platform and both current and projected student enrollment growth.
The surveys were distributed to 7,926 email addresses, and about 36% of those students responded. Only 26.7% of those answers, or 2,114 responses, were accepted for analysis, according to trustee Cheryl Cooky.
The results show that incoming Purdue students appear to have greater civic knowledge than the general United States population. Additionally, the freshman class seems to display more civic knowledge than other college graduates in Indiana, according to Cooky.
The survey was comprised of two instruments used in previous studies. Twenty questions were taken from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation’s national survey and eight questions from the American National Election Studies.
Cooky said the civic literacy working group will next refine the survey, have the pilot survey given out in political science courses and present it to the University Senate’s Education Policy Committee by either the end of the fall semester or in early January 2020.
Trustee Vanessa Castagna had concerns about the survey.
“I’m not quite understanding why we’re modifying this tool,” Castagna said via phone, “and then, how does that tool get credibility? We’ve had that trouble before on surveys.”
Cooky said civic literacy plans are only at phase one and were intended to be modified, and eventually, the University could potentially develop its own survey instrument.
“We always envisioned the BGR survey as a starting point or phase one, as opposed to (thinking) this is a done deal,” Cooky said.
Possible plans for increasing civic literacy knowledge would be implementing a course requirement, creating an exam that students can take multiple times to pass, completing self-directed modules or taking a Cornerstone course.
BoilerConnect is an online platform that combines analytics with communication and workflow tools used by academic advisors, student success program staff and other faculty members, according to the Purdue BoilerConnect webpage.
The main goal of the platform is to “improve retention and graduation,” said Jay Akridge, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity.
The platform has features such as an intervention assessment tool to measure student academic performance and a population health dashboard for academic directors or directors of centers to track the academic status of students by different categories, trustee Jenna Rickus said.
Akridge said the analytical tools from the platform have helped connect students with support resources on a large scale but also in a more personal way.
Student trustee Noah Scott agreed and shared his experience with having more than one advisor when switching majors.
“Because of this system, my old advisor was able to hand off my new advisor, in which now I have two, and they can handoff between each other,” Scott said.
Fall 2019 total undergraduate enrollment is 2,640 more than enrollment in fall 2017. This year’s fall enrollment surpassed the fall 2020 projection of 33,537 enrollments, according to the University’s long-term enrollment growth plan.
Budget allocations became effective on July 1, with $1.5 million in recurring investments that were mostly for instructional costs in the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and the Polytechnic Institute, said Cherise Hall, associate provost for finance and administration.
Work is underway to identify needed classroom space in fall 2020. The STEM Teaching Lab and new residence halls are still planned to become fully functional then, according to the enrollment plans.