This report briefly makes available student self-reported experiences within the Honors Program from a survey conducted largely in December of 2019 that was sent to all Honors students.

Honors seeks to advance scholarship and best does so through support of students and therefore it is needs to assess the experiences of students outside of academic performance. This survey was implemented as part of a program self-assessment to ensure quality service is provided to students and provide increased accountability for the program.

The Honors Program Mission, Vision, and Inclusion Statements can be viewed here: https://honors.uiowa.edu/about

 

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Accountability and Transparency are cornerstones to building effective communities of support and promote the higher engagement we hope to facilitate in our scholars. We need your feedback to help us, as we continually evaluate our offerings, programs, and procedures.

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Report presented and analyzed by Addison Woll, Assessment Manager & Admissions Coordinator

Data collected by Emily Johnson, former Records & Enrollment Director

Survey designed, data collected & analyzed by Logan Drake, former Graduate Intern

Please email questions about this data directly to addison-woll@uiowa.edu


Past Climate Survey Results

Below is listed out some of the key findings from the 1st Annual Climate Survey, which was distributed 12/18/2019-02/19/2020.

 

Caveats and Limitations of this Survey

  • The first-year cohort in this survey were the first to be admitted with the new holistic application process;
    • greater selection influence and potential bias could have influence on expectations held by the cohort as well as their traits.
  • It is not possible to tell if differences are a result of inter-cohort personality differences or as a result of degree progression through the program and at Iowa; This is because the survey has only been administered one time.
  • 10% of the total Honors Population took this survey. An ideal response rate is 20-30% for proper power-analysis and statistical power.
  • Majority of respondents were first-year students, providing a statistical representation of that cohort, but skewing the other three.
  • Only 8% of all respondents were Students of Color, so we are unable to determine if their experiences differ from majority student populations.

Summary of Key Findings

  • 1st year students are the most likely to participate in events (but survey responses may have skewed this)
  • Sense of Community significantly declines as cohorts progress
  • Students feel Staff are Welcoming, but feel a significant and dramatic decrease in feeling staff care about student success after first year
  • Students report personalized email as preferred communication
  • Top requests are for Sample Curriculum Plans, Bi-annual Progress check-ins, and DEI training for all staff
  • Even split on perception on benefit/lack of benefit for value of reflections for study abroad/internships
  • Most students enjoy Honors courses and Contracts more than regular courses

In-Depth Analysis

 

Sense of Community

'Sense of community' is the extent to an individual feels like there is a community in the Honors Program, and can count themselves as a member of that community. 70% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said they felt a sense of community in the Honors Program, versus 48% of second-year Honors students. The downward trend appears to persist with third and fourth-year students and is meaningful when 2rd, 3rd, and 4th years are combined. 'Sense of Community' is a key aspect of Vincent Tinto's Theory of Student Departure, and is a key metric looking at student retention within Universities. 

1

Sense of Belonging

'Sense of Belonging' is the extent to which an individual feels like they have membership within a group. This is perhaps, the opposite of Impostor Syndrome. 'Sense of Belonging' also indicates that the individual feels accepted by the larger membership of the group, and can access resources within the group. 83% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said they felt a sense of belonging in the Honors Program, versus 65% of second-year Honors students. The trend for third and fourth-years remains stable with that of second-years.

'Sense of Belonging' and 'Identity as an Honors Student' track closely together, with no statistical difference between the two.
'Identity as an Honors Student' is the extent to which an individual views themself as a bonafide member of the Honors Program, regardless of how the group views them.

2

Honors Staff are Welcoming

'Staff are welcoming ' is the extent by which individuals feel that the staff (unspecified to be student staff and/or professional staff) are welcoming to students.
94% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said Honors Staff are Welcoming in the Honors Program, versus 72% of second-year Honors students. The trend for third and fourth-year students retains parity with that of the second-years.

Staff are Welcoming

Students are Welcoming

'Students are Welcoming' is the extent by which individuals view students within the Honors Program to be welcoming to other students and themselves.
92% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said fellow Honors students are welcoming, versus 85% of second-year Honors students. Overall the majority of Honors students found other Honors students to be welcoming.

4

Perception about Staff Caring about Students

'Perception about Staff Caring about Students' is the extent by which students perceive that staff (not specified to student staff and/or professional staff) within Honors cares about them as an individual and their individual success.

91% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said they felt staff cared about them in the Honors Program, versus 32% of second-year Honors students. Third year students remained low, with a modest increase in perception for fourth-year students. This drop is statistically significant, even given the caveats listed above, and is cause of concern for the Professional Staff. It is to be noted that some students reported quite negative interactions with staff, experiencing micro-aggressions or condescension. This is unacceptable and counter to the goals and mission of the Honors Program. We apologize to those individuals and are taking steps (shown below) to address this concern.


Going to a Staff Person for Personal Advice

'Going to a Staff Person for Personal Advice' measures the self-reported comfort a student to discuss non-academic concerns with an Honors staff person (not specified to student staff and/or professional staff). 27% of first-year Honors Students in AY2019 said they could go to staff for personal advice in the Honors Program, versus 21% of second-year Honors students. This indicates a perception of low level of personal interaction, personability, or comfort meeting with Honors staff. Insufficient data was collected to asertain why this number is low. A variety of rationalizations are therefore plausible: generational gap, lack of staff visibility, student dislike of meeting in person, staff being perceived as unapproachable, and/or others. Students who reported meeting with professional staff generally left very positive free responses about their experiences. Improving this metric is important to Honors mission statement, and steps are underway to improve (shown below).

 

Going to a Staff Person for Academic Advice

'Going to a Staff Person for Academic Advice' measures the self-reported comfort of a student to discuss academic concerns with an Honors staff person (not specified to student staff and/or professional staff).  37% of first-year Honors Students in Fall 2019 said they could go to staff for academic advice in the Honors Program, versus 23% of second-year Honors students. This survey question was relatively vague. Again it did not define whom staff were (student staff or professional staff), nor did it set parameters for what constitutes academic advice. The Honors Program has extensive advising offerings to help students select coursework and experiential learning opportunities to complete the Honors curriculum. Efforts to improve these offerings are underway (shown below). Honors cannot serve as a student's primary academic advisor, as each department and program of study differs extensively.

It is notable to report that students do overall feel comfortable going to their primary academic advisor for academic advice and guidance for University Honors. Combined with the two outcomes above strengthens the argument that the Honors staff needs to improve their perception of being personable. This also indicates that Honors has been successful in collaborating with academic advisors across the University undergraduate degree granting colleges.

 


 

Actions taken by UIHP as to address Concerns

Underway

Concern or Issue
Action
To address concerns of staff approachability, personability, and inclusion Enactment of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for professional staff, beginning with Implicit Bias Training.
To address concerns of approachability, outreach, and sense of care Reorganization of Peer Mentors to have 'case loads' for more personalized outreach to student members.
To improve student retention, empowerment, and sense of belonging Coordination with founding student members,  to create the student lead Honors DEI Advisory Board to advocate for students, provide opportunities for students, advise the UIHP staff, and act as an accountability partner.
To improve student retention, and student success Creation of: Alternative Research Project, Honors Summer 2020 Project, and new Service Learning Option.
To improve access to Honors to traditionally underrepresented students Increased coordination, planning, and advocacy with University Admissions High Ability Recruitment Associate Director and Assistant Director of Diversity Recruitment and Outreach as well as International Student Scholar Services Admissions team.
To address issues of information access and transparency Revision of Honors website to make information more accessible (e.g. reorganization, people first language, and universal design).
To address concerns of sense of staff care about student success, and transparency Increasing Program transparency through the publication of this page, as well as other metrics for success.
To address low levels of going to staff for academic advice and personability Evaluation study of Peer Mentor advising.
To address staff approachability and communication Increasing the amount of staff visibility through Instagram Take-Overs, Honors Open House events, and encouraging professional staff presence in social activities.
For accountability and continued improvement of the program Continued administration and revision of the Climate Survey.

 

 

Planned

Concern or Issue
Action
To improve the approachability and sense of caring of staff Requirement of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training for all student staff.
To increase outreach and communication with students Developing system to provide bi-annual 'status reports' to honors students regarding program requirements.
To identify ways to improve the program and identify missed student needs Development of an 'Exit Survey' for students who opt to leave the program, are removed, or are unable to graduate from Honors.
To improve student retention and student success Increased coordination with campus partners such as: Academic Support & Retention, First-Year Programming, Excelling@IOWA, and Division of Student Life.
To improve access to Honors by traditionally underrepresented or marginalized populations Review of current Honors scholarships, scholarship selection processes, and increased coordination with campus scholarship granting bodies.

Take the Survey

Accountability and Transparency are cornerstones to building effective communities of support and promote the higher engagement we hope to facilitate in our scholars. We need your feedback to help us, as we continually evaluate our offerings, programs, and procedures.

Please take our 2nd Annual Climate Survey!

Take the Survey!


 

Please email questions about this data directly to addison-woll@uiowa.edu