SENCER E-Newsletter, October 2005, Volume 5, Issue 2
SSI 2005 Participants Expect Their Work Will Affect an Estimated 53,000 Students at Their Institutions Within the Next Two Years
Danielle Kraus, SENCER Project Associate
Participants in the SENCER Summer Institute 2005 (SSI 2005) estimated that their SENCER-related work would affect over 53,000 students within the next two years. This number includes undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at a variety of higher education institutions across the nation and around the world. Here's how it breaks down: Overall, respondents indicated that 39,996 undergraduate students and 895 graduate students in an estimated 455 courses/labs could be affected this year alone by work done or ideas shared at this Institute - an average of seven courses/labs, 606 undergraduate students and 39 graduate students per institution. When participants considered the future impact on their campuses, the aggregate numbers jump to 53,430 undergraduate students and 2,074 graduate students in 1,572 courses/labs.
We gathered these rather impressive numbers based on answers to our annual SSI evaluation. Each year, we ask the participants in the Institutes to help us gather data regarding our project and to help us evaluate our program. We solicit their appraisals of every feature of the Institute—from the intellectual quality, usefulness of their experience to lodging, facilities, and transportation. We depend on the candid responses to these evaluations to inform the shape and content of following Institutes and to provide us with their valuable perspective. This thoughtful feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to our work.
The evaluations consist of two parts: 1.) required information for the National Science Foundation and 2.) an appraisal of the SENCER Summer Institute program. 282 participants were eligible to complete the evaluations. After compiling information from the 191 returned evaluations - representing a 68% response rate - a clearer view of how the Institute worked for all of its participants is taking shape. Here are some findings from our initial analysis with the greater SENCER community.
The overall registration for SSI 2005 was 327 faculty, administrators, staff, and students representing 106 institutions from 30 U.S. states and five foreign nations. There were 169 women and 155 men in attendance, of whom 7% were African American, 4% were Asian American/Pacific Islander, 2% were Hispanic, 72% were White/not of Hispanic origin, and 1% selected "other" (14% of registrants chose not to respond regarding their ethnicity).
Of those individuals who submitted completed evaluations, 35% represented four-year colleges, 33% represented comprehensive universities, 18% represented doctoral institutions, 9% represented two-year colleges, and 5% selected "other". This includes four Historically Black Colleges and Universities, one Hispanic-Serving Institution, six Minority-Serving Institutions, and one that is both a Hispanic and Minority-Serving Institution.
It's no surprise that participants claimed a wide variety of experiences given the diversity of participants' academic backgrounds. With respondents representing over 20 areas of study, opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations were numerous. Despite their differences, many had similar goals for their time in San Jose. The most common reasons that individuals chose to attend the Institute included improving science education at their home campuses, broadening their abilities by learning new areas, strategies, approaches and techniques, improving interdisciplinary learning, and stimulating/supporting civic engagement in students. Considering the overwhelming number of participants who considered their time spent at the Institute valuable, it seems that many people will be able to translate their goals for SSI 2005 into classroom reality.
Overall 92% of participants responded that their experience at the Institute was positive and valuable. Many indicated that "team time" was especially effective and that the chance to get to know colleagues better was an important element to their work at the Institute. Exposure to new ideas, cross-institutional connections, and the chance to develop skills ranked among the most useful aspects of the Institute.
As we continue our analysis of the evaluations, we'll share more of the data with you. If you'd like to send us a "when the rubber hits the road" update, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know how your Summer Institute experiences are affecting your work this fall by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.