UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

Shorter, savvier undergraduate survey offers many (and Mini) prizes

– Calling all undergraduates: Now's your chance to fill out a report card on UC Berkeley, and perhaps win some cash or an iPod Shuffle in the process.

Starting today, students can fill out the University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey (UCUES) online. The annual survey is administered by the Office of Student Research, and this year four students were brought in to help write and test questions, and to brainstorm ways to advertise and promote the survey.

Reading the hidden UCUES
In addition to their administrative uses, UCUES results help paint a more complete picture of the typical Berkeley student - which, as readers of past survey results know, doesn't exist. If you have doubts, check out:

2004 undergraduate survey tackles stereotype of Berkeley as rich in research but poor in teaching

Bye-bye, 'Berzerkeley': Surveys provide a peek at the real UC Berkeley students, about the 2003 UCUES

Only one Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program position had been created to help work on the survey. "But there were four applications that were so strong that we just went ahead and hired all of them," says Gregg Thomson, director of the Office of Student Research.

The students' first mission was to make the survey shorter, and they've succeeded - prompting a new slogan for UCUES (which they also came up with): "Half the time, triple the prizes!" Now, all respondents will answer a set of "core" questions, including personal demographics and degree of satisfaction with the university, and then will be randomly assigned to answer one of five additional question sets dealing with their academic engagement, civic engagement, student development, student services and support, or a "wild card" section.

In return for completing the survey, respondents are entered into drawings for some serious prizes. An iPod Shuffle (or $80 cash if preferred) will be given away each weekday during the first month of the survey, along with a final grand prize of $1,000 and five "second" prizes of an iPod Mini or $160 cash.

For those UCUES respondents who don't win a set of coveted white earbuds, there's the satisfaction of knowing that they're helping make Berkeley a better place for the remainder of their education — and for classes that come after them. "It's an opportunity for students to tell us very directly and very candidly what's working and what's not working for them," explains Thomson. "They can tell us specifically which student services they're using and where they would recommend increased resources. We analyze the results on a major-by-major basis, which means students have direct input into the overall evaluation and review of their experience in their individual major."

Students: Take the survey
Thomson assures cynics that every single response - positive or negative - is logged and noted. And just to prove it, the survey is asking students to write in their own suggestions for how policies, programs and practices on campus can be improved. "We're going to read every one of those suggestions," Thomson pledges. "The best will go into a drawing for a cash prize."

This year, also for the first time, UCUES will ask respondents to nominate "unsung heroes" - faculty or graduate student instructors or staff who have gone out of their way to make the lives of students better or to improve the undergraduate experience on campus. Those exceptional people will then get the recognition they deserve from the campus.

Watch the NewsCenter in the fall, after the survey results are in and tabulated, to learn more about these secret saints, what Berkeley students want to fix about the university, and what they think it's doing right.