June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.887.1 - 14.887.12
More to Say: Analyzing Open-Ended Student Responses to the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey
Keywords – Open-ended Survey Responses, Student Academic Experiences
A final, optional open-ended question in the Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey (APPLES) that asked “Is there anything else you want to tell us that we didn’t already cover?” elicited free form responses from 37 percent of the 4,266 survey participants. This paper explores their responses. After data cleaning, 880 responses were anonymized by individual and institution. The responses were rated on a numeric value (1-5) ranging from negative (criticizing) to neutral to positive (complementing). Responses were also coded using an emerging thematic coding scheme. The emergent topics were organized by whether the comments addressed school or individual issues. Topics suggested by the open- ended responses related to the School category were: Advising, Co-op, Gender, Social and Teaching (Curriculum) and Teaching (Language). These responses were mostly found to the extremes, both positive and negative, of the scale of positive/negative comments. Topics suggested by the open-ended responses related to the Individual Beliefs category were: (engineering as a) Calling, Challenge, Future, Lifestyle, Money and Understanding. These responses were mostly found to be neutral on the scale of positive/negative comments. Our analysis showed that the subjects’ open-ended responses added qualitatively to student-voiced passions, concerns and experiences that could not be easily captured in a multiple choice question format.
The APPLE Survey (or APPLES – Academic Pathways of People Learning Engineering Survey) is a 10-minute online survey offered to undergraduate engineering students. This instrument was one research component of the Academic Pathways Study (APS), a branch of the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education that seeks to understand academic and professional persistence in engineering. APPLES focused on understanding how students at American institutions navigate their undergraduate education to become engineers, and considered their backgrounds, experiences and decisions.
The APPLES instrument is based on the Persistence in Engineering (PIE) survey1,2 that was administered as part of APS longitudinal research with 160 students at four universities from 2003 to 2007. The first administration of APPLES (“APPLES1”) took place at the four APS institutions in 2007.3,4 A modified version of the survey (“APPLES2”) was administered at 21 American universities in Spring 2008.5
This second APPLES instrument asked 49 multiple choice and 1 open-ended question. Multiple choice questions were carefully designed to gather information around well-conceived items that
Lande, M., & Parikh, S., & Sheppard, S., & Toye, G., & Chen, H., & Donaldson, K. (2009, June), More To Say: Analyzing Open Ended Student Responses To The Academic Pathways Of People Learning Engineering Survey Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5188
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