UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

UC students asked to complete online survey to improve undergraduate experience

– A team of researchers at the University of California is asking students at all nine campuses to grade the university on how well it's doing its job of undergraduate education. Feedback is being sought on everything from course instruction to admissions processes to how much time students spend studying, working and surfing the Internet.

At UC Berkeley, cash prizes - including daily $100 prizes and a $1,000 grand prize - are being offered to entice undergraduate students to take the survey before final exams roll around.

"We are awarding more than $4,000 worth of prizes at UC Berkeley," said Steve Chatman, the survey project director. "Students who complete the survey are automatically entered into all subsequent $100 daily prize drawings. So, the earlier students respond, the more chances of winning. There will be a May 7 grand prize drawing for $1,000, and additional prizes as well."

The nine-campus survey is the fourth in the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) series. The series is supported by the UC Office of the President, run cooperatively by the UC campuses, and administered by UC Berkeley's Office of Student Research.

Called "Every Student Has a Voice, and Every Voice is Heard," the survey will be sent to all 150,000 undergraduate students in the UC system, but UC Berkeley students have the first chance to respond. According to the researchers, UC Berkeley has been No. 1 among all UC campuses in past years in the percentage of students who participate in the UCUES surveys.

Online survey techniques allow for new ways to analyze student responses, which include open-ended questions, said Alice Agogino, chair of the UC Berkeley division of the Academic Senate.

"UCUES is part of a new and vital approach for analyzing and improving the undergraduate experience, developed as a collaborative project between faculty researchers and university administrators," she said. "We need students to seize this opportunity to help make Berkeley an even better university."

The researchers said the UCUES survey is a first among universities - both public and private.

"UCUES allows undergraduates to provide confidential and candid input on the undergraduate academic experience in their majors - information which is reported to deans, department chairs and senior administrators as part of our regular program review process," said UC Berkeley Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Christina Maslach. "We are now able to hear first-hand from students what would improve the quality of their educational experience and to begin to institute changes that will make a real difference on the ground."

UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Genaro Padilla said that UCUES has greatly enhanced the campus's ability to assess who its students are and how it can best provide the services they need.

"I encourage every student to think of UCUES as an opportunity to make a unique and important contribution to Berkeley by sharing with us their experiences and insights," he said. "I can think of no more effective way of improving the undergraduate experience than by gaining the views of students themselves."

UCUES is part of a larger project, Student Experience in the Research University (SERU), which seeks to improve the academic and civic experience of UC undergraduates. The entire project is led by a SERU/UCUES research team that includes Richard Flacks, professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara; Gregg Thomson, director of student research at UC Berkeley; John Douglass, a senior research fellow at UC Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education; and, at UC Berkeley, Steve Chatman, SERU/UCUES project director.

"The University of California is a significant laboratory for investigating the changing nature of undergraduate education in a major American research university," said Douglass. "UC faces large scale increases in enrollment in the midst of declining state funding support, dramatic demographic shifts in the socioeconomic and ethnic composition of its student population, and the prospect of significant changes in how courses are delivered."

Thomson added that the annual survey establishes a database that "is invaluable for tracking changes from year to year in the strengths and weaknesses in UC's undergraduate program and in the changing nature of how students are taught, their motivations and desires, and how they view their experiences."

Results from the survey will be available in the fall. For more information on SERU and UCUES, see cshe.berkeley.edu/research/seru