Title: Student experience in the research university (SERU)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095865/00001
 Material Information
Title: Student experience in the research university (SERU)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Office of Institutional Planning and Research, University of Florida
Publisher: Office of Institutional Planning and Research, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Copyright Date: 2009
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095865
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Gve us your 2 btsl


What is SERU?
SERU evolved from the University of California (UC) System student survey; it opened to
American Association of Universities (AAU) members outside California in 2009
Participating institutions in 2009: University of Florida, UC Berkeley, University of
Minnesota, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, and Rutgers
SERU is unlike many other student surveys: it is administered to all students, not a
sample; it focuses on experience in research universities; it provides feedback on
colleges and programs and subpopulations as well as the whole university
UF had nearly a 70% response rate, compared to 26-39% for the other institutions

Key Findings
Most UF students are satisfied with their experience: the university ranked 1st of 6
institutions in social experience, 1st in value of education for the price, and 3rd in
satisfaction with academic experience,
UF was also 1st of the six institutions in the percentage of students who "agreed" or
"strongly agreed" that: they would choose to enroll again, knowing what they know now
(79% vs. 70% at other AAUs); and they felt they belonged at this campus (75% vs. 66%)
Ratings of instructional and course quality were slightly higher than other AAUs,
measured by the percent "satisfied" or "very satisfied": faculty instruction (66% vs. 64%);
TA instruction (51% vs. 49%), lower division course quality (51% vs. 50%), upper division
course quality (67% vs. 65%)
Ratings of advising quality were substantially higher than other AAUs, also measured by
percent "satisfied" or "very satisfied": faculty advising (54% vs. 49%) student peer
advisers (40% vs. 33%), college/school-level staff advising (48% vs. 43%), departmental
staff (51% vs. 48%)
White students were more likely to "agree" or "strongly agree" that "students of my
race/ethnicity are respected on this campus" (83%) than black students (32%) or
Hispanic students (64%).

Students "Satisfied" or "Very Satisfied"

Academic Experience
Social Experience
V Other AAU
Value of Education for the Price


In 2009, the Student Experience in the
Research University (SERU) survey was
distributed online between March and June
to nearly all undergraduates who were
enrolled in spring 2009.

The SERU survey was originally developed
as the University of California
Undergraduate Experience Survey
(UCUES) by the University of California at
Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher
Education. Since 2004 all of the universities
in the University of California System have
administered the survey. In 2009, six public
Association of American Universities (AAU)
institutions joined the project: UF, Rutgers
University, the University of Michigan, the
University of Minnesota, the University of
Oregon, and the University of Pittsburgh.

The SERU survey contained nearly 600
individual items; each student answered a
core set of items and a selection of the
supplemental items. Many questions are
similar to those in the National Survey of
Student Engagement (NSSE), in which UF
has participated in the past.

Unlike NSSE, however, SERU focuses
much more on the undergraduate mission of
research universities in particular. It is also
a survey of the whole population, not just a
sample. As a result, it enables analysis and
reporting about majors, colleges, and other
subpopulations about topics such as
student development, academic experience,
civic engagement, campus climate, global
knowledge and skills, student ethical beliefs
and behaviors, art and cultural experiences
and demographics and student family

This year, more than 22,000 UF students
answered the SERU survey for a 69%
response rate. UF had the highest
response rate by far of all the universities
participating in SERU: University of
Pittsburgh (39%), University of California at
Berkeley (37%), Rutgers University (30%),
University of Minnesota (27%) and
University of Michigan (26%).


Time use and the four-year degree
Students' satisfaction with UF is an
encouraging result. Students at UF give the
university higher ratings on social
experience and affordability questions than
do their peers (affordability is no doubt
helped by the combination of Bright Futures,
Prepaid plans, low in-state tuition, and high
average parental incomes). One apparent
side effect, however, is that students are in
less of a hurry to finish. Only 48% of UF
students indicated that graduating in four
years was "very important" or "essential" to
them, compared to 57% of other AAU

The lower importance given to the four-year
schedule translates into less time spent on
academic work that would get students to
the finish line. Students spend less time
studying (46% report 11+ hours per week
vs. 59% at AAU peers) and less time in
class (75% report 11+ hours per week vs.
86% of peers) than they otherwise might.
UF also had a higher percentage than its
peers of students who reported that
allowingn] time for other activities" was
"very important" in selecting a major (37%
vs. 28%). Nor is employment the issue,
since many fewer students work (42% vs.

Taken together, the data suggest that, by
the standards of their peers elsewhere, UF

students probably have the time and
economic capacity to take more courses
and to focus more on four-year completion if
they are required to do so.

Student goals
Goals most frequently identified as "very
important" by freshmen students taking
SERU included: "Obtaining skills needed to
pursue my chosen career" (94% UF/93%
Others), "discovering what kind of person I
really want to be" (91% UF/85% Others),
"acquiring a well-rounded general
education" (85% UF/79% Others),
"establishing meaningful relationships"
(85% UF/81% Others), and "preparing for
graduate or professional study" (70%
UF/69% Others).

Academic development
UF and other seniors were asked to
compare their current proficiency in various
skills and academic areas to their
proficiency at initial entry to their institution.
UF seniors generally believed they "gained"
less from entry to current level compared to
others in critical thinking, writing and foreign
language skills, but "gained" more in
quantitative, computer, presentation and
interpersonal skills, as shown below:

Academic UF Others
Development (Seniors) (Seniors)
Analytical and
critical thinking 45% 53%
Ability to be
clear and
effective when
language skills 4
(mathematical 1%
and statistical) 15% 14%

Computer skills 33% 30%

Ability to
prepare and 45% 42%
make a
Interpersonal 37% 31%
(social) skills

As a major research university, UF has a
strong interest in providing research and
creative opportunities for both its
undergraduate and graduate students.

Thirty percent of UF seniors indicated
they had worked on creative projects
under the direction of a faculty
member in a course while 26% of
other institution seniors had done so.
One quarter of UF seniors had
assisted faculty in research on a
volunteer basis compared to only
16% of other seniors
Eighty-five percent of UF seniors had
completed a research or creative
project as part of coursework
compared to 90% of other seniors

Academic experience
Students were asked to rate their
satisfaction with different aspects of their
undergraduate experience. Senior students
at UF rated their experiences as satisfying
or very satisfying about the same extent
those at the other Consortium institutions:

Quality of faculty instruction UF
seniors 69% / Others 67%
Access to small classes UF seniors
49% / Others 48%
Availability of courses needed for
graduation UF seniors 57% /
Others 57%

Students at UF are highly engaged in
campus activities, community service and
civic action compared to others in the

Sixty-nine percent indicated they had
participated in clubs or organizations
compared to 60% of other students.
Fifty-seven percent had performed
community service compared to 48%
of students at other institutions.
Ninety percent had registered to vote
compared to 87% of students
surveyed at other institutions.

Diversity and tolerance
UF students paint a picture of themselves
as a generally diverse and tolerant group
who are comfortable with themselves and
their place in the institution. As a
percentage, more UF respondents were
black or Hispanic than at other institutions,
while fewer were Asian or nonresident alien.
UF students also described themselves as
wealthier, more conservative, and more
religious (especially Christian) than the
respondents at other universities, and were
more likely to identify as heterosexual.

While the campus was generally perceived
as tolerant of diversity, students in different
types of minority groups (religious, racial,
economic, sexual, political, etc.) were less
positive about the diversity climate than
students in the majority. For example, 83%
of white students agreed or strongly agreed
that students of their race/ethnicity are
respected on campus, compared to only
32% of black students. The gap was similar
at other institutions.

On the larger question of "belonging" on
campus, however, the gap was much
narrower. 65% of black students and 77%
of Hispanic students "agreed" or "strongly
agreed" with the statement "I feel that I
belong at this campus," compared to 75%

Students also believed their appreciation of
diversity had increased while at UF. Among
seniors, 80% self-rated as "very good" or
"excellent" their "ability to appreciate,
tolerate and understand racial and ethnic
diversity," up 23 percentage points from
prior to enrolling at UF.

"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
students of my race/ethnicity are
respected on campus

UF Others
White 83% 86%

Hispanic/Latino 64% 51%
32% 34%

Student development and success
UF provides a variety of services to
students for the purpose of supporting their
academic, social, health, cultural, and
housing needs. The SERU survey asked
students to indicate whether or not they had
used a service and if so, whether the
service had helped them to be academically

Not surprisingly, students saw a strong link
between using tutoring services and their
academic success. Nearly 60% of all
students used off-campus tutoring (such as
the Tutoring Zone) and 80% of those using
such services found them academically
helpful. For on-campus tutoring areas such
as the Writing Lab or Broward Teaching
Center, results were similar. Just over 30%
used the on-campus tutoring, and nearly
60% of those using the services found them
helpful in their academic success.

Other heavily used services were advising
(85%), the Reitz Union (82%), Student

Health Care Center (57%), and recreational
sports (51%).

Quick takes
A list of "quick takes" or comparisons
between UF and other AAU responses to
select questions on Academics, the
Campus Environment and Global
Engagement is attached.

More information
Detailed data are available for viewing on
the Office of Institutional Planning and
Research test Web site,
cip test.aspx. The test site will be closed
soon and the SERU reports will be linked
from the Office of Institutional Planning and
Research home page, www.ir.ufl.edu.

For questions or further information, please
contact the Office of Institutional Planning
and Research at 352-392-0456.



Percent of students who said that UF Others
Graduating in four years is "very important" or "essential" 48% 57%

Highest degree level expected UF Others
Bachelor's 10% 10%
Teaching credential 1% 1%
MBA 12% 11%
Other professional master's 12% 10%
Academic master's 15% 14%
Law degree 10% 7%
Medical other than MD (DO, DDS, DVM, etc.) 6% 4%
MD 8% 8%
Doctorate 15% 18%
Multiple doctorates 2% 3%
Don't know yet 11% 14%

Students who reported the following were "very important" in selecting a major UF Others

Intellectual curiosity 89% 92%
Leads to a high paying job 52% 43%
Prepares me for a fulfilling career 89% 85%
Complements desire to study abroad 31% 27%
Parental desires 19% 16%
Easy requirements 17% 13%
Allows time for other activities 37% 28%
Provides international opportunities 48% 42%
Prestige 53% 48%
Couldn't get into my first choice of major 9% 7%
Interest in subject area 96% 97%
Prepares me for graduate/professional school 73% 68%


"Agree" or "strongly" agree that UF Others
The university has a strong commitment to undergraduate education 61% 63%
Attending a university with world-class researchers is important to me 55% 54%
It doesn't really matter where I get my undergraduate education (UF, regional
college, community college, etc.)
The emphasis on research detracts from the quality of teaching on campus 17% 17%

Had "often" or "very often" UF Others
Taken a small research-oriented seminar with faculty 5% 6%
Communicated with a faculty member by e-mail or in person 39% 40%
Talked with the instructor outside of class about issues and concepts derived
19% 18%
from a course
Interacted with faculty during lecture class sessions 26% 24%
Worked with a faculty member on an activity other than coursework (e.g., 11% 9%
11% 9%
student organization, campus committees, etc.)
Had a class in which the professor knew or learned your name 42% 45%
Raised your standard for acceptable effort due to the high standards of a
31% 32%
faculty member

Seniors who have completed a research project, created activity or paper as
part of coursework


Estimated time on academic tasks
Spent 11+ hours in class per week
Spent 11+ hours studying per week

UF Others

85% 90%

UF Others
75% 86%
46% 59%

Academic tasks performed "often" or "very often "
Recognize or recall specific facts, terms and concepts
Explain methods, ideas, or concepts and use them to solve problems
Break down material into component parts or arguments into assumptions to
see the basis for different outcomes and conclusions
Judge the value of information, ideas, actions, and conclusions based on the
soundness of sources, methods and reasoning
Create or generate new ideas, products or ways of understanding
Used facts and examples to support your viewpoint
Incorporated ideas or concepts from different courses when completing
Examined how others gathered and interpreted data and assessed the
soundness of their conclusions
Reconsidered your own position on a topic after assessing the arguments of

Had "often" or "very often"

Extensively revised a paper at least once before submitting it to be graded

Sought academic help from instructor or tutor when needed
Worked on class projects or studied as a group with other classmates outside
of class
Helped a classmate better understand the course material when studying
Contributed to a class discussion

Brought up ideas or concepts from different courses during class discussions

Asked an insightful question in class

Found a course so interesting that you did more work than was required

Chosen challenging courses, when possible, even though you might lower your
GPA by doing so
Made a class presentation



57% 56%

46% 44%

42% 43%

UF Others

41% 40%

27% 24%

37% 34%

34% 30%

33% 39%

22% 25%

21% 23%

15% 16%

29% 33%

22% 22%


Had "often" or "very often"
Turned in a course assignment late
Gone to class without completing assigned reading
Gone to class unprepared
Skipped class

"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
Academic cheating is a problem on this campus

Factors that "often" or "very often" were obstacles to academic success


UF Others
16% 13%

UF Others

Competing job responsibilities (i.e., paid employment)
Competing family responsibilities
Other competing responsibilities (e.g., athletics, clubs, internship)
Weak English skills
Weak math skills
Inadequate study skills (e.g., knowing how to start, knowing how to get help,
organizing material)
Poor study behaviors (e.g., wait till last minute, easily distracted, too much
social time, too much web surfing)
Bad study environment (e.g., noisy roommate, poor Internet access,
inadequate computer or software)
Feeling depressed, stressed, or upset
Physical illness or condition


SERU respondents who were

28% 30%

UF Others
57% 59%
43% 41%

Asian/Pacific Islander
Black/African American
Nonresident Alien

Self-described demographic characteristics
Wealthy or professional/upper-middle class background
Parent income over $200,000
One or both parents with a bachelor or higher degree
One or both parents with a master's or higher degree



Liberal or very liberal
Conservative or very conservative

Atheist, agnostic, or not particularly spiritual

"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
Diversity is important to me
Diversity is important on this campus

"Agreed" or "strongly agreed" that students of their race/ethnicity were
respected on campus
Black/African American

28% 40%
21% 10%

96% 93%
20% 30%
59% 46%

UF Others
64% 67%
66% 66%




"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
Opportunities for community service while here are important to me

Opportunities to develop my leadership skills while here are important to me

My experience here provides adequate opportunity to explore my cultural
I feel I can express my political opinions on campus

"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
Most students are proud to attend this school
I am proud to be a student at this campus
I feel valued as an individual on this campus
This institution values students' opinions

Would definitely not support a political candidate with a different stand on

Access to affordable higher education

Students who said they
Worked for pay (any number of hours)

Time spent "partying"
0 hours per week
1-5 hours per week
6-10 hours per week
11+ hours per week

"Agree" or "strongly agree" that
Alcohol use is a problem on this campus
Drug use is a problem on this campus
There is a clear sense of appropriate and inappropriate behavior on this

UF Others
47% 43%

66% 61%

48% 44%

60% 60%



UF Others

27% 33%

UF Others
42% 54%








Percent of seniors rating their current abilities as "very good" or "excellent" and
difference from percent self-rated "very good" or "excellent" prior to enrolling

Analytical and critical thinking skills
Ability to be clear and effective when writing
Ability to read and comprehend academic material
Quantitative (mathematical and statistical) skills
Understanding of a specific field of study
Foreign language skills
Ability to speak clearly and effectively in English

Leadership skills
Computer skills
Internet skills
Library research skills
Other research skills
Ability to prepare and make a presentation
Interpersonal (social) skills

Ability to appreciate, tolerate and understand racial and ethnic diversity

Ability to appreciate the fine arts (e.g., painting, music, drama, dance)

Ability to understand international perspectives (economic political, social,
Ability to appreciate cultural and global diversity
Understanding the importance of personal social responsibility
Self awareness and understanding
Understanding of the complexities of global issues
Ability to apply disciplinary knowledge in a global context
Ability to work with people from other cultures
Comfort working with people from other cultures

UF-- Others--
UF Others
Gain Gain

80% 78% 23%

61% 59% 18%

62% 61% 41%

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