Assessment Reports

The Office of Institutional Research publishes an on-going series of research reports which disseminate the findings from outcomes studies of freshman and seniors, student opinion surveys, alumni research, and other special studies. This information is shared with campus managers and governance bodies in order to improve the student experience. The following overview provides a chronological listing and brief summary of the reports. Click on the Research Report Number link below to view a report in PDF format.

Research Report No. 32: "Survey of May 2010-May 2013 Bachelor's Degree Recipients" (May, 2015)

This report details results from telephone and web surveys conducted in 2014 of UAlbany bachelor's degree recipients from 2010 through 2013. Post-graduation activities for graduates both in the work force and graduate school are provided, as well as information on internships and out of classroom learning experiences. Data are presented for the entire university as well as by school/college. (Also see Assessment Report #25, below.)

Research Report No. 31: "Graduate Student Assessment Survey, 2014: Report on Trends and Key Findings" (February, 2015)


Results are presented from the Spring 2014 administration of our campus-wide survey of graduate students at the University at Albany. Graduate student perceptions on a wide variety of issues related both to their academic and non-academic experiences at UAlbany are presented separately for master's and doctoral students. In addition, trends or changes in opinions or experiences between the previous survey administrations in 2008 and 2011 (see Research Reports Nos. 26 and 29, below) are discussed.

Research Report No. 30: "Results of the Spring 2014 UAlbany Administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)" (December, 2014) Summary and detailed research findings from the Spring 2014 NSSE are presented, including detailed comparisons of responses of UAlbany first-year-students and seniors, as well as benchmark comparisons between UAlbany students and three self-selected peer comparison groups.
Research Report No. 29: "Graduate Student Assessment Survey, 2011:
Report on Trends and Key Findings."
(March 2013)
Results are presented from the second administration of our campus-wide survey of graduate students at the University at Albany. Graduate student perceptions on a wide variety of issues related both to their academic and non-academic experiences at UAlbany are presented separately for master's and doctoral students. In addition, trends or changes in opinions or experiences between the 2008 survey administration (see Research Report No. 26, below) and the 2011 administration are discussed.
Research Report No. 28: "2012 SUNY Student Opinion Survey:
Report on Trends and Key Findings."
(March 2013)
Summary and detailed research findings from the Spring 2012 Student Opinion Survey (SOS) are presented. Historical trends across areas of interest are also presented.
Executive Summary of the Spring 2011 NSSE Results
(February 2013)

Research findings from the Spring 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), along with trends from the 2008 NSSE survey administration at UAlbany.  


Report of the Course Assessment Advisory Committee (Fall 2012) This report discusses and explores the committee's nine specific charges regarding the history, design, administration, and appropriate uses of course and instructor evaluations produced by students. It includes recommendations for enhancing student response rates, changing the Student Instructional Rating Form (SIRF) instrument, as well as other aspects of the SIRF administration process.
Research Report No. 27: "2009 SUNY Student Opinion Survey:
Report on Trends and Key Findings."
(December 2009)
Summary and detailed research findings from the Spring 2009 Student Opinion Survey (SOS) are presented. Historical trends across areas of interest are also presented.
Research Report No. 26: "Graduate Student Assessment Survey, 2008:
Report on Key Findings."
(December 2009)
Results are presented from the first-ever campus-wide survey of graduate students at the University at Albany. Graduate student perceptions on a wide variety of issues related both to their academic and non-academic experiences at UAlbany are presented separately for master's and doctoral students.
Executive Summary of the Spring 2008 NSSE Results
 (December 2009)
Overall summary of research findings from the Spring 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). This national benchmark survey of undergraduate academic engagement is part of UAlbany's plan for Strengthened Campus-Based Assessment.
Report of the First Year Experience Task Force (September 2009) This report documents the findings and recommendations of the First Year Experience Task Force, which was charged with reviewing UAlbany's programs and offerings for first-year students, considering best practices at comparable institutions, and making recommendations for a strategic plan for the first-year experience at the University at Albany.
Research Report No. 25: "Survey of May and August 2007 Bachelor's Degree Recipients." (August 2008) Assessment Report No. 25 presents the results of a multi-phase, multi-mode post-graduation activity survey. Conducted with funding from the Office of Student Success, we reached 1,047 out of 2,025 May and August 2007 Bachelor's degree recipients. For students in the work force, this report includes data on salary, field, and locations. For students continuing their education, it includes degree, field, name and location of school. Data are presented for the entire university as well as broken down by college.
Executive Summary of the Spring 2006 Student Opinion Survey
  (July 2007)
Overall summary of research findings from the Spring 2006 Student Opinion Survey (SOS). Historical trends across areas of interest are also summarized.
Report of the UAlbany Task Force on Undergraduate Writing Instruction  (June 2007) This report documents the historical development of undergraduate writing instruction at UAlbany, assesses program efficacy, outlines the need for writing reform, and proposes a number of recommended changes to UAlbany's undergraduate writing program.
Research Report No. 24: "An Outcomes-Driven Program of Academic Advisement." (July 2002) Assessment Report No. 24 describes the assessment agenda and activities of the University at Albany's Advisement Services Center which provides academic advisement to approximately 5,000 first and second-year students. Major research findings and their implications for advisement at the University at Albany are presented and discussed. Most importantly, this research report documents how advisement staff members have used research results to create a feedback loop between outcomes and process to improve the undergraduate advisement experience. These assessment activities should serve as a model of outcomes-based assessment and accountability for other academic departments and support units.
Research Report No. 23: "Report on the Spring 2001 Presidential Scholars Web-based Survey." (July 2001) This survey was conducted in Spring 2001 in conjunction with the Associate Dean for Honors Programs to provide student feedback on various aspects of the Presidential Scholars Program and the experience of Presidential Scholars at the University at Albany. Presidential Scholars were asked a series of questions to assess their use and perceived benefit from honors courses, honors housing, special events for Presidential Scholars, and the mentor program. In addition, the survey asked Presidential Scholars to rate their satisfaction with the University at Albany across a range of academic and social factors.
Research Report No. 22: "Pre-College Characteristics and Freshman Year Experiences as Predictors of 8-year College Outcomes." (June 1999) This report examines twelve educational outcomes for a representative group of undergraduate students who entered the University at Albany in Fall 1990. Looking at these students in 1998, the study explores the association among pre-college characteristics, freshman year experiences, freshman year outcomes, and cumulative 8-year college history at Albany. Consistent with previous research, the results indicate that freshman year experiences at Albany are better predictors of all twelve outcomes than are the pre-college characteristics. The classroom experience scale and the faculty relations scale are each very significant, with one or the other being the most influential predictor of five of the eight freshman year outcomes. The peer relations scale is the most influential predictor of the remaining three freshman year outcomes. Student conscientiousness and freshman year willingness to attend Albany again are the most influential predictors in the remaining four outcomes that pertain to the 8-year college history.
Research Report No. 21: "1990s Survey Results: Outcomes Assessment at Albany." (March 1998) This report summarizes the salient information from our Spring 1997 undergraduate student survey and compares these results with those of similar surveys conducted earlier. This is the survey that is administered across the State University every three years in the spring. Student reports of their own growth and development at Albany suggest a slightly improving trend, especially in preparation for life-long learning. However, we are not preparing students for careers as well as we are for graduate school. Willingness to attend Albany "all over again" has also improved since 1994 among both freshmen and seniors. Compared to 1994, Albany in 1997 held steady in quality of teaching, faculty availability, library services, recreational programs, and bus service, and improved significantly in academic advisement, study space, classroom facilities, library facilities, food service, parking, personal safety, student government, social life, and racial harmony.
Research Report No. 20: "Retention, Academic Outcomes, and Educational Experiences Reported by Project Renaissance and Other Albany Freshmen." (February 1998) This Assessment Report examines the first year outcomes among Albany Freshmen who first enrolled in Fall 1996. The results indicate that Project Renaissance Freshmen exhibit unusually high rates of retention to the sophomore year, but only slightly better academic performance compared to the others. Freshmen responses to survey items designed to assess their growth, their satisfaction, and other campus experiences suggest that there are measurable and statistically significant, though not universal, benefits for students participating in Project Renaissance.
Research Report No. 19: "Characteristics of Extenders: Full-time Students Who Take Light Credit Loads and Graduate in More than Four Years." (January 1996) The existing enrollment management and student-institution fit literature generally concentrates on two student populations: persisters and dropouts. This study investigates a third population that we call extenders -- those ostensibly full-time students who take longer than normal to complete a bachelor degree. By analyzing the transcripts and survey responses of undergraduates at Albany, the report identifies three groups of extenders: financial need extenders, grade conscious extenders, and special situation students. While all three types are visible in our transcript analysis, the study finds empirical support in the multivariate analysis only for the first two types. Extender behavior that is based upon financial need is congruent with Cabrera's integrated model of student retention. However, there are few other congruencies between these findings and the student-institution fit literature. The study finds little influence exerted by the usual measures contained in other studies that have used concepts such as academic and social integration, goal clarity, and encouragement by friends and family. Apparently these concepts and measures have little to do with student decisions to take lighter academic loads and to lengthen their graduation date. Extenders in this study are not negative about taking longer to graduate and are generally satisfied with their experiences.
Research Report No. 18: "Promoting Student Success and Retention: A Summary of What Works." (September 1995) There are two primary sources of information and knowledge about college student success and the conditions that foster it. The first source is the practices of other campuses, and the second is the student outcomes research literature. These two sources, especially in recent years, have reached largely similar conclusions about what works. The most important ingredients are faculty quality and effort combined with student quality and effort. The institutions that have the greatest impact on students are ones that intermingle the academic and residential experience.
Research Report No. 17: "1994 Survey Results: Outcomes Assessment at Albany." (March 1995) This report consists of charts that summarize the salient information from our Spring 1994 undergraduate student survey. This is the survey that is administered across the State University every three years in spring. The report includes basic data on why students selected Albany, on their level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with various academic and student services and facilities, and on their college experiences at Albany -in terms of academic integration, social integration, and institutional integration. This information is being shared with various administrative units, planning committees, and governance bodies in order to facilitate their decision and policy making. [Superceded by Report 21]
Research Report No. 16: "Assessing Student Attainment in the Academic Major: What's the Question?" (May 1994) This paper outlines the philosophical foundations for assessment of student learning, summarizes the generic purposes of collecting evaluation and assessment information, and offers a list of methodologies for academic departments to consider. Evaluation and assessment force us as professionals to engage in evidence-based thinking. Moreover, the nature of the evidence we gather depends upon the question one asks at the beginning of the process. Most evaluation and assessment activities seek answers to one or more of the following generic questions: do we meet the standard? How do we compare? Are we meeting our goals? Are we getting better? The report lists the advantages and disadvantages of different methods. Table 1 of the report gives a summary of possible methods for assessing student attainment in the major depending upon each purpose. Each assessment question or purpose can be addressed in a variety of appropriate, yet different ways. The question of whether the activity is relatively centralized and controlled by forces outside the department, or decentralized and controlled by the faculty, is perhaps less important than the usefulness of the assessment for enhancing student learning. Even standardized, nationally normed tests can be used by faculty to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the department's progrm. And even the most student-centered form of talent development usually yields results that can be aggregated to serve program evaluation purposes.
Research Report No. 15: "The Impact of Departmental Research and Teaching Climates on Undergraduate Growth and Satisfaction." (April 1994) Are differences in departmental teaching and research climates associated with differences in the academic integration and intellectual growth of the undergraduates who major in those academic disciplines? This study examines various student and departmental measures in 27 academic departments at Albany and concludes that departments with balanced orientations toward research and teaching have the most favorable impact on students. [This research report is a condensed version of a similarly titled journal article by J.F. Volkwein & D.A. Carbone, J. of Higher Ed., 65: 147-167].
Research Report No. 14: "The Undergraduate Experiences Most Strongly Associated with Ten Educational Outcomes at Albany." (July 1993) This investigation examines ten educational outcomes reported by a representative group of 1990 seniors who entered the University at Albany in Fall 1986. The research project assesses the relationship between these ten outcomes and a variety of pre-college measures (including test scores, academic achievement, values and attitudes) and measures of academic and social experiences at Albany. The results indicate that eight of the ten educational outcomes are most heavily influenced by college experiences, rather than by the pre-college measures. The vitality of the classroom experience is the single most important influence on six outcomes and a statistically significant contributor to two others.
Research Report No. 13: "General Education Skill Attainment Reported by Five Groups of Albany Seniors." (February 1993) This Assessment Report examines the general education skill attainment among Albany seniors enrolled in 1982 (pre-Gen Ed requirements) versus 1986 and 1990 (post-Gen Ed). The results suggest that Albany student general education skills have strengthened in some areas and remained the same or slipped a little in others. As expected, seniors who enter Albany as freshmen attribute more of their growth in these skills to the Albany experience than do seniors who enter as transfers.
Research Report No. 12: "Outcomes Assessment at Albany: A Summary of What We Have Learned Since 1978." (June 1992) This report summarizes the results of the previous assessment studies at Albany: cohort studies of freshmen and transfer students, comparisons of graduating seniors in various majors, research on General Education' skill attainment, surveys of students and alumni, studies of the factors contributing to student growth and satisfaction, among others. For more than two decades, Albany has carried out assessment and self-evaluation not to please outsiders, but to satisfy ourselves. We have undertaken assessment not to judge undergraduate education but to improve it. Thus, assessment is not a product or an end, it is a process or a beginning. This report summarizes the results of Albany's on-going initiatives in the field of assessment. Beginning in 1978, the University launched a series of cohort studies that placed the campus in the forefront of assessment research. These research efforts, which have continued into the 1990s, have given the University at Albany a rich array of evaluative databases. Few campuses in the nation are so well informed about their students.
Research Report No. 11: "A Study of Albany Alumni Who Graduated From Sixteen of the Largest Undergraduate Majors." (April 1992 ) This report, which is part of the study reported in research report No 10, is specifically designed to provide academic departments with information about their alumni. By targeting a specific population in each major, and by merging the results of three separate surveys, the study was able to compare the different responses of those from widely different academic fields, and to provide helpful information to the faculty about their former students. Survey instruments were sent in 1987 and 1989 to 4,400 Albany Alumni. The overall response rate was 40%. Targeted for study were those who received bachelors degrees 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and 25 years earlier in a total of 16 different fields. The questionnaires asked graduates to supply a variety of data about themselves, ranging from academic and educational topics to demographic and occupational information. Respondents were asked to evaluate the impact of the Albany experience on their education and careers. Finally, report No 11 also contains responses to department-specific questions that are being shared directly with each department Chair and College Dean.
Research Report No. 10: "Alumni Assess the Undergraduate Experience." (March 1992) In 1987 and 1989, as part of the university's outcomes assessment program, the OIR conducted surveys of Albany Alumni who had majored in the largest undergraduate programs at Albany (see also report No11). The survey instrument included a wide array of questions seeking information about post-Albany education, and the extent of its impact on their lives. A survey instrument was sent in 1987 and 1989 to 4,400 Albany Alumni who had majored in the sixteen largest undergraduate programs at Albany. Targeted for study were those who had received their degrees 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and 25 years earlier. The overall response rate was 40%. Two types of data analyses were conducted: one for the alumni samle as a whole (this report No 10) and one which arrays the same data by department of undergraduate major (report No 11). This report summarizes data on where Alumni live, what their occupations are, what their annual earnings are, their level of career satisfaction, and their views on the effectiveness of their Albany experience.
Research Report No. 9: "A Multi Year Analysis of Albany Student Responses to Opinion Surveys." (August 1990) This report displays the most important findings from student opinion surveys, conducted by the OIR in 1978, 1985, and 1988. It shows multi-year trends, and compares the responses of different student populations. Albany students of all groups report that they are generally satisfied with their classroom experiences and with their own intellectual and personal growth and with Albany "in general". The trends in our ratings suggest that there have been steady improvements in the quality of teaching and faculty availability. Academic advising rates were found to be low but improving. On the other hand, the data show deteriorating satisfaction in several areas of student life outside the classroom (i.e. food service, parking, student government, personal safety). Perhaps the most striking finding is the relatively high student agreement among different student groups (i.e. freshmen, transfers, EOP students). The findings suggest that there are fewer differences and more commonalities than the popular view on campus would lead one to believe. [Superceded by Report 21]
Research Report No. 8: "Albany Graduates from Five Fields of Study: A 1987 Description and Assessment of the Graduate and Undergraduate Alumni in Business, Chemistry, English, History & Social Welfare." (February 1989) In 1987, the OIR conducted a survey of Albany Alumni in five academic areas. The survey instrument included a wide arry of questions seeking information about post-Albany educational and occupational experiences and asking alumni to evaluate the adequacy of their Albany education, and the extent of its impact on their lives. This report summarizes the responses we received from over 1,300 (or 40%) of the group contacted. The methodology of the study is described in an appendix to the report. The department specific responses constitute a second Appendix to the report, and have been shared directly with each department and school. [Superceded by Reports 10 and 11]
Research Report No. 7: "Retention and Graduation Rates of SUNY-Albany Undergraduates." (April 1989) This report summarizes some of the available data on retention/graduation rates for students admitted as full-time freshmen during the 1980s at the University at Albany. Using both SUNY and national comparisons, the study indicates that Albany has one of the highest rates of retention and one of the lowest rates of attrition among public universities. Albany tends to graduate two out of every three traditional freshmen, and three out of every four transfer students. The attrition/retention statistics for all undergraduates tend to mask large differences among subgroups. EOP populations have lower retention than non-EOP populations; and minorities have lower retention than whites. The highest attrition rate for whites occurs during the first year, whereas the highest rates for minorities occurs during the second year. Rates for men an women are quite similar, except among minorities which have an inconsistent pattern, probably due to small numbers. Minority and white students who persist at the University exhibit some characteristics in common, and some which are different. Successful white and minority students both exhibit ambitious life and career goals. The two groups differ, however, in their attitudes about social concerns. Transfer students also exhibit variable attrition/retention patterns depending upon the sending institution.
Research Report No. 6: "Assessing the Impact of the Undergraduate General Education Program." (January 1988) What impact does the General Education Requirement have on Albany undergraduates? Do Albany seniors who graduated before and after the new curricular requirements report differing gains in those skills which are related to the goals of the General Education program? This report analyzes data collected on the classes of 1982 (pre-Gen Ed) and 1986 (post-Gen Ed). Comparing the two groups who entered Albany as freshmen, the Post-Gen Ed 1986 seniors reported higher levels of attainment on all nine Gen Ed items. While the post-Gen Ed gains were both encouraging and consistent, they were not large enough to attain statistical significance, and we cannot be absolutely sure that they resulted from the General Education curriculum, per se. Students reported the least progress in the areas of writing ability and world cultures, so these may need additional attention. Examining the data for schools and colleges suggested that the Gen Ed Program is having the most impact on students in the Humanities and Social Sciences and the least impact on those majoring in Business and Science and Math. Freshman to Senior year attitude changes toward liberal education and career skills are striking, and vary by school and college. School/college differences among 1986 seniors were to some extent apparent when these students entered as freshmen, but students in all schools and colleges and in both cohorts showed increases in the importance of a liberal education and decreases in careerism during the four years. Finally, the study compared the end-of-the-year responses for the Freshmen entering in 1978, 1982, and 1986, and found modest though inconsistent improvements over time. Considering all the available empirical evidence, there appear to be grounds for cautious optimism but not complacency about the impact of general education on Albany undergraduates. [Superceded by Report 13]
Research Report No. 5: "A Study of Graduating Seniors at Albany Comparing Those Who Entered the University as Freshmen with Those who Entered as Transfer Students." (November 1987) What impact does Albany have on the intellectual and personal growth of its undergraduates? Do graduating seniors who entered as transfer students report significantly different experiences than those who entered as freshmen? This report analyzes data collected on the class of 1986 and finds that both groups of Albany seniors report healthy levels of intellectual growth, skill development and satisfaction. Differences in the experiences of transfer students versus native freshmen lie mostly outside the classroom. The transfer seniors appear to be less socially connected to their peers, and more vocationally oriented in terms of their educational purposes. In most other important respects (including academic performance and future plans), there are no statistically reliable differences between the two groups. Our university makes a generally similar and favorable impact on the two populations of graduating seniors even though they enter Albany possessing different backgrounds and educational experiences.
Research Report No. 4: "An Assessment of the Impact of General Education Requirements on Freshmen." (March 1985) In the Spring of 1981, the University at Albany established the General Education Program. The new curricular requirements took effect for those students who entered the University as freshmen in the Fall of 1982. As part of its participation in a national demonstration project, which focused on the use of student outcomes information in decision-making, the University undertook an assessment of the influence of the General Education Program on freshmen as compared with that of the virtually free-elective Lower Division curriculum that preceded it. This report summarizes the results of that assessment. A description of the studies' designs and analytical methods is provided in an Appendix. [Superceded by Report 13]
Research Report No. 3: "SUNY-Albany Undergraduates: Who Are They? What Happens to Them Here? Where Do They Go?" (September 1984) Since the Summer of 1978, the OIR has conducted a series of longitudinal studies of students entering SUNY-Albany as freshmen. These studies, together with other information from University records, permit us to paint a statistical portrait of Albany's undergraduates: their academic and social backgrounds, their goals and expectations, how they change during their years at Albany (and the sorts of University experiences that appear to be related to those changes), what happens to them after graduation, and how they feel about their years at Albany. This report summarizes what has been learned from those early studies of the Albany undergraduate population. [Superceded by Report 12]
Research Report No. 2: "Changes in Students' Perceptions of the Importance of Three Major Goals of College." (January 1984) This report summarizes the changes over a four-year period in the importance SUNY-Albany students attach to three educational goals. The results are based on a series of longitudinal surveys of two cohorts of students who entered the University as freshmen in the Fall semesters of 1978 and 1980. Students completed questionnaires in the summer before matriculation and at the end of each academic year thereafter. One portion of the entering student survey and the yearly follow-up questionnaires asks students to describe the importance they attach at that point in their lives to three goals of a college education: 1) "gaining a liberal arts education and appreciation of ideas;" 2) "gaining knowledge and skills directly applicable to a career;" and 3) " learning about myself, my values, and my life's goals." Students were asked to rate the importance of each goal using a four-point scale.
Research Report No. 1: "The Frequency and Nature of Informal Student Contact with Faculty." (January 1983) This report summarizes a portion of the results of a series of longitudinal studies of the experiences of undergraduate students at the University at Albany. This summary describes the frequency and nature of the contact SUNY-Albany students have with faculty and staff members--how often it occurs, and for what purposes. Students' contact with faculty was found to be positively related to students' self-reported academic growth in both content and skills, their self-reported personal development, changes in their educational goals, and changes in their major programs. The evidence is reasonably clear that non-classroom student-faculty contact at Albany, does, indeed, play an educative role in students' lives. The question, them, appears to be: should there be more of it? If yes, how can it be fostered?