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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 4, no. 6 (April 03, 1996).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c April 03, 1996
The 1976 Illini : sweet memories of alma mater / Diya Dutt.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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mods:detail volume mods:number 4issue 6series Year mods:caption 19961996Month April4Day 33mods:originInfo mods:dateIssued iso8601 1996-04-03
1 of 16 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 4 Number 6April 3, 1996ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass,Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Educ ation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1996, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.Permission is hereby granted to copy any a rticle provided that EDU POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credi ted and copies are not sold.The 1976 Illini: Sweet Memories of Alma Mater Diya Dutt University of Illinois--Urbana, Champaigndutt@uiuc.edu Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explore the atti tudes of graduates of the class of 1976 from the University of Illinois toward their alma mater over a period of fifteen years. The central question addressed in this article is: How do forme r students feel about their educational institution as time passes? Early research suggests that students' attachment to their educational institution becomes weaker with the passage of time This panel data on alumni attitudes towards the academic environment indicates that contrary to evidence from past research, students developed a stronger attachment towards the educati onal institution with passage of time. A similar positive pattern was evident when examining the attitude towards the program major. It is possible that better experiences in the real world have made the alumni comprehend the quality of education they received at the University of Ill inois. Also, favorable disposition toward one's institution seems to be, to a very considerable ext ent, the college's contribution to the intellectual development of the student. The purpose of this article is to explore the atti tudes of the graduates of the class of 1976 from the University of Illinois toward their alma m ater over a period of fifteen years. The central question addressed in this article is: How do forme r students feel about their educational institution as time passes? Assessing how well stud ents regard both the university and the education they receive is important for evaluation and planning purposes. This article explores graduates' satisfaction with their educational expe rience and assesses how positively respondents feel toward the university, their major, and the pr eparation provided by their majors for their careers. Early research suggests that students' att achment to their educational institution becomes
2 of 16weaker with the passage of time. Does the students' attitude toward the institution change differentially once they graduate from the Universi ty? Few longitudinal studies spanning a decade or more of the formation of opinion by graduates toward academic institution have been und ertaken in higher education research. The data for this paper originated from a panel study o f the class of 1976 graduates from the University of Illinois who were interviewed at four points in time. Panel studies like this cost a great deal of time and money, but they help in buil ding a rare data base for educational institutions which permits an analysis of student t rends for usage in program review and planning.Literature Review Alumni research is crucial for assessing the long range benefits or detriments of college academic experience. The hallmark of a good Univers ity is the product -the alumni (Spaeth, 1981) and they are an important part of higher educ ation's constituency (Pace, 1979). However, literature in the field of alumni research has been meager until today. A delay in alumni research can adversely influence educational management issu es like program review, curriculum planning, student assessment, resource allocation, and career counseling (Melchiori, 1988; Moden & Williford, 1988). Following alumni through their lives and focusing on demographic characteristics, attitudinal issues, and career pat terns can help unravel the motivational forces of alumni as providers for their institutions (Melchio ri, 1988; Stover, 1930). Alumni research gained momentum after the 1930s be cause the economic depression stimulated systematic objective inquiries into the plight of college graduates (Pace, 1979). Two studies were conducted by the University of Minneso ta and the U.S. Office of Education during the years of the Great Depression to determine the economic status of college alumni. The Minnesota study found that job opportunities for co llege graduates were markedly limited during the Depression years. However, more than sixty perc ent of the students got jobs in the same field as their college specialization. The average yearly salaries were low for men and uniformly lower for women (Pace, 1979). The results of the Minnesot a survey were confirmed by a nationwide study of college graduates reported by the U.S. Off ice of Education (Pace, 1979). The study encompassed college graduates from 31 different col leges and universities during the years from 1928 to 1935, and confirmed the hardships faced by college graduates during the Depression era (Pace, 1979). Following the Second World War, a landmark study o f college graduates was conducted by the research division of Time Magazine (Pace, 19 79). The Time study was a national sample of all college graduates whose names were obtained from 1200 degree-granting colleges and universities in the late 1940s. The survey included questions about the economic and occupational status of the alumni, their attitudes toward college and their involvement in civic, cultural and political affairs. The study revealed that a majority of the students attached a high value to their college and asserted that they would go back to the same institution from where they received their degrees. Following the Time survey, the next alumni study o f national scope was done in 1963 at the Survey Research Center of the University of Cal ifornia, Berkeley (Pace, 1979). The scope of the study went beyond job opportunities for student s after graduation, delving into attitudes about their own education, its benefits, and also their i nvolvement in a variety of civic and cultural activities. The major importance of this study was that it concentrated on the lives of men who had graduated with a major in one of the traditiona l liberal arts fields, i.e., the social sciences, humanities, literature, and the arts (Pace, 1979). Another survey of nationwide scope was conducted b y the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) in 1969. This included samples of alu mni from the graduating class of 1961
3 of 16from 135 colleges and universities. The result of t he study was reported in a book written for the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (Spaeth, 19 70). The authors wanted to know how members of the class of 1961, after graduating a de cade ago, assessed the performance of their alma mater. Among other issues, they wanted to asce rtain the attitudes of former students toward their University. In their study, they found that n ostalgia for their alma mater was not overwhelming among the alumni (Spaeth, 1970). Those who had a strong attachment to their college had declined in number a decade after they graduated from the University. It could be that experience in the outside world or the mere passing of time had moderated strong positive feelings toward the university (Spaeth, 1970). Another study investigated the effects of various aspects of the academic environment on students' satisfaction with the college experience (Rich & Jolicouer, 1978). Data for this study was collected from 12 colleges and universities in California in the fall and winter of 1975-76 (Rich & Jolicouer, 1978). The authors found that lo nger tenure in college is negatively associated with positive rating for institutions. Students bec ome disenchanted during the course of their stay in college, and high expectations they had from hig h school give way to realities of hard work, less success and difficulties with peers and facult y (Rich & Jolicouer, 1978). Interestingly, they also observed that students at public colleges rate their school less highly than those at private institutions (Rich & Jolicouer, 1978).Research Hypotheses This article explores student attitudes toward the University of Illinois and major Programs of Study over a period of fifteen years. B ased upon the literature pertaining to alumni attitudes and higher education, the research hypoth eses developed for this paper are: Strong positive feeling toward the college declines substantially with the passage of time. Attitude towards program major becomes more positiv e with better experience in the job market. Positive disposition towards the educational instit ution is a function of the University's contribution to the intellectual development and of the perception of faculty concern for student needs. Research Design The University of Illinois has conducted surveys o f its graduates since 1973. The class of 1976 is unique because it has been surveyed four ti mes at intervals of one, five, ten and fifteen years. The survey included measures to assess stude nts' post-graduation employment history, further educational achievements, attitude toward t he University and major Program of Study, and satisfaction with the quality of instruction an d course offerings. The University Alumni Association maintains a database containing demogra phic information of all University alumni. This file provides information for each alumnus inc luding home address, major curriculum code, degree awarded, sex, ethnic code, campus location, graduation month, birth date, and social security number. This article is based on data collected in four wa ves (1977, 1981, 1986, 1991) through a 29 item, selfadministered mail questionnaire. Thi s was a population survey of graduates of the class of 1976 from both Urbana and Chicago campuses (N=12,854). A packet of materials, including a cover letter signed by the President of the University, the instrument, and a pre-addressed stamped envelope was mailed, using fi rst class postage, to each respondent. Two follow up mailings of non-respondents were done at an interval of three weeks to enhance the response rate. This study is based on the pool of g raduates who have participated in all four
4 of 16surveys (N = 2,306) (Note 1).Statistical Design Repeated Measures Analysis was used to analyze alu mni's emotional attachment to the University and attitude toward major Program of Stu dy over time. (Please refer to the Appendix for detailed observation on the choice of statistic al design). Cronbach's alpha was utilized to construct two indexes to measure program satisfacti on and faculty guidance. The coefficient Alpha is based on the inter-item correlation, which helps decide whether a group of items should be added together to form a scale or index. Ordinar y Least Squares (OLS) regression procedure was used to assess the impact of program satisfacti on and faculty guidance index on the attitude towards the University. The Stepwise model selectio n procedure was used, where at each stage a test was made of the least useful predictor.Discussion of Findings Sample Characteristics The sample consists of 1469 males and 837 females. The mean age of the male respondents at the time of graduation was 25.43 yea rs, versus women, which was 25.85 years. In the panel, 62.6 percent of the students were baccal aureates, 24.5 percent received a Masters degree, 6.4 percent received doctoral degrees, and another 6.5 percent received a professional degree from the University. Characteristics of samp le respondents by age, gender, campus location, geographical site, and degree level are p rovided (Table 1). As far as age distribution and geographical location was concerned, there was no d ifference between the panel respondents from the original pool. However, more men responded in all four surveys compared to women, and the sample also had more students from the Urba na-Champaign campus than the Chicago branch. In terms of degree level, there was a highe r percentage of respondents with doctoral degree in the sample, and only a few professional d egree holders returned surveys compared to the original pool. Table 1 CHARACTERISTICS OF SAMPLE RESPONDENTS BY AGE, G ENDER, CAMPUS, GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION, AND DEGREE LE VEL Variables Original Returned Sample Sample (N=12,854) (N=2306) Age of 25.6 25.6Respondents(Mean Years) Gender (in percent) Male 59.9 63.7 Female 40.1 36.3 Campus (in percent) Urbana 69.3 82.6
5 of 16 Chicago 30.7 17.4 Location (in percent) Illinois 83.0 80.5 Outside Illinois 17.0 19.5 Degree Level (in percent) Bachelors 62.4 62.6 Masters 24.4 24.5 Doctoral 5.9 6.4 Professional 7.3 6.5Alumni Attitudes Toward The University What was the reaction of the 1976 alumni toward th e University in which they received their degree? In this section of the article, we us ed four dependent variables, the attitude towards the University (Note 2) surveyed at four different points in time in a repeated measures analysis. Table 2 compares the reactions of the alumni over a period of fifteen years. The multivariate test (HotellingTrace=0.055) was significant at the .00 01 level (F=43.52, degree of freedom =3, p = .0001) which meant that there was substantial chang e in the level of attachment towards the alma-mater over time. In other words, strong positi ve feelings by the alumni toward the college kept rising over a period. The Univariate test also shows significance at the .0001 level (F=49.69, degree of freedom= 3, p = .0001). The overall statistical difference found among the attitudinal measures leads us to determine which specific time condition was respons ible for contributing to this significance. In this repeated measures design, where a single group of subjects was measured at four points in time, we did a set of repeated contrasts. This was done to investigate whether there were significant differences at adjacent points in time. An analysis of variance was performed on the contrast variables, which represent the difference of mean between the attitudinal variable measured in 1977 with subsequent time periods. The results presented in the last column of Table 2 show that there was a substantial strengthe ning of positive feeling from former students toward the University over a period of fifteen year s. The intensity reached its peak ten years after graduation but leveled off slightly after fifteen y ears. Table 2 REPEATED MEASURES ANALYSIS OF ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE UNIVERSITY FOR THE CLASS OF 1976 OVER FIFTEEN YEARS Dependent Mean Standard Test ofVariables Deviation Contrast (1) Attitude TowardsUniversity 1977 3.503 0.604 (N=2290)
6 of 16 1981 3.616 0.560 F=82.38, df=1, (N=2290) p=.0001* 1986 3.647 0.528 F=117.10, (N=2295) df=1, p=.0001* 1991 3.601 0.558 F=47.40, df=1, (N=2298) p=.0001* Multivariate Univariate Test Test Hotelling F=49.69, df=3, p=.0001* Trace=0.055, Greenhouse-GeisserF=43.521, I=.9299 (2)df=3, (N=2257)p=.0001*(N=2257)1 The last column indicates the contrasts which rep resent the difference of means in 1977with subsequent time periods.2 The assumption of sphericity is tenable.* Significant at .001 level. Positive Feelings Toward Program Major In Table 3 we discover how the alumni rate their m ajor Program of Study over a period of time. Positive strong feelings toward the major fie ld of study were ascendant over a period of fifteen years. Repeated measures analysis was again used to gauge the intensity of feelings of alumni toward their major. The multivariate test (H otellingTrace=0.00929) was significant at .0001 level (F=6.955, degree of freedom= 3, p= .000 1) which meant that there was an overall significant positive effect over time toward the ma jor field of study by the alumni. The Univariate test also showed significance at the .00 01 level (F=7.97, degree of freedom= 3, p = .0001). Again, since an overall difference was foun d, we wanted to determine which specific time period differed in the analysis. The analysis of variance for the contrast variable presented in last column of Table 3 revealed that there was a si gnificant difference in feeling towards the major program of study over a period of ten and fif teen years. However, there was no appreciable change in response between 1977 and 1981 towards th e major field of study (Table 3). It could be that a better experience in the post graduate wo rld would have made the alumni realize the excellent quality of education received at the Univ ersity of Illinois, which in turn strengthens positive reactions to major field of study over a p eriod of time. This finding is contrary to what past research ind icates in general about alumni behavior (Rich & Jolicoeur, 1978; Spaeth, 1970). These studi es on student attitudes toward academic environment indicate that in general, even though s tudents are satisfied with their college, there is an erosion of strong positive feelings over time toward the university. It is interesting to note that one group of scholars (Rich & Jolicoeur, 1978) has indicated that students at public colleges rate their schools less highly than those at privat e institutions. In this respect, our finding is significant because the University of Illinois is a major public University. Table 3 REPEATED MEASURES ANALYSIS OF ATTITUDE TOWARD MAJO R PROGRAM OF STUDY FOR THE CLASS OF 1976 OVER FIFTEEN Y EARS
7 of 16 Dependent Mean Standard Test ofVariables Deviation Contrast (1) Attitude TowardsProgram Major 1977 3.345 0.704 (N=2284) 1981 3.360 0.708 F=.84, df=1, (N=2294) p=.359 1986 3.408 0.688 F=15.53, (N=2292) df=1, p=.0001* 1991 3.399 0.682 F=10.13, (N=2296) df=1, p=.001* Multivariate Univariate Test Test Hotelling F=7.97, df=3, Trace=0.00929 p=.0001,*F=6.955, Greenhouse-Geisserdf=3, I=.9563 (2)p=.0001* (N=2249)(N=2249) 1 The last column indicates the contrasts which rep resent the difference of means in 1977with subsequent time periods.2. The assumption of sphericity is tenable.* Significant at .001 level. Alumni Perceptions of Academic Quality Is the favorable disposition toward one's alma mat er the result of the college's contribution to the intellectual development of the alumnus? Two indexes were created to gauge students' rating of the educational institution. The first index consists of five items asking stud ents the extent to which they were challenged by their program, the variety of course offerings, the quality of instruction, the usefulness of the program, and the satisfaction wit h the Program of Study. Cronbach's alpha was computed on these five sets of items for the four t ime periods, and the index entitled "program satisfaction" was constructed. The program satisfac tion index score for 1977, 1981, 1986, and 1991 ranged from 4 to 25. Those who were dissatisfi ed with the quality of academic program scored low on the scale, and those who were satisfi ed were on the higher end of the continuum. Cronbach's alpha and the means for all four time pe riods for the scale constructed is provided in Table 4. The high coefficient associated with Cronb ach's alpha for all four years indicates that the items can be reliably summed up to construct a scal e to measure program satisfaction (Table 4 ). Table 4 RELIABILITY MEASURE FOR PROGRAM SATISFACTION INDEX Variables (1) Mean Standard
8 of 16 Deviation Challenged by your program of 3.920 0.960study(1977) Program provided a well 3.660 1.021integrated set of courses(1977) Quality of instruction in major 3.768 0.943department (1977) Program of study was worthwhile 4.020 0.960(1977) Satisfaction with your major 3.869 0.902program (1977) Cronbach's Alpha (1977) = 19.16 3.770.837, (N=2264)* Challenged by your program of 3.977 0.923study (1981) Program provided a well 3.758 0.983integrated set of courses(1981) Quality of instruction in major 3.872 0.887department (1981) Program of study was worthwhile 4.000 0.973(1981) Satisfaction with your major 3.883 0.895program (1981) Cronbach's Alpha (1981) = 19.44 3.670.840, (N=2279)* Challenged by your program of 4.046 0.896study (1986) Program provided a well 3.833 0.942integrated set of courses(1986) Quality of instruction in major 3.910 0.859department (1986) Program of study was worthwhile 4.037 0.907(1986) Satisfaction with your major 3.932 0.870program (1986) Cronbach's Alpha (1986) = 19.72 3.700.875, (N=2285)* Challenged by your program of 4.253 0.800study (1991) Program provided a well 3.950 0.882integrated set of courses(1991) Quality of instruction in major 3.980 0.808department (1991)
9 of 16 Program of study was worthwhile 4.038 0.881(1991) Satisfaction with your major 3.948 0.847program (1991) Cronbach's Alpha (1991) = 20.13 3.420.866, (N=2283)* 1 Item scale ranged from 1 to 5, i.e., "low satisfaction" to "high satisfaction."* Items were summed up to construct program satisfa ction index. The second index is called "quality of faculty gui dance", and consists of three items asking students to rate the quality of academic gui dance, vocational advice and the extent of communication between faculty and students regardin g student needs, concerns and suggestions. Cronbach's alpha was computed on these three items for the four time periods. The faculty guidance scale for the four time periods ranged fro m 1 to 15. Respondents who thought that intellectual guidance was unsatisfactory were on th e lower end of the spectrum and those who rated it highly were on the higher end of the scale Cronbach's alpha and the means for all of the four time periods is provided in Table 5. The relia bility coefficient was very high for these three items and the items were summed up to construct the scale. Table 5 RELIABILITY MEASURE FOR FACULTY GUIDANCE IND EX Variables (1) Mean Standard Deviation Quality of academic guidance 3.154 1.215(1977) Quality of vocational 3.744 1.238guidance (1977) Channels of communication 3.217 1.107between faculty and studentsregarding student needs,concerns and suggestions(1977) Cronbach's Alpha (1977) = 9.03 3.040.803, (N=2234)* Quality of academic guidance 3.210 1.175(1981) Quality of vocational 2.720 1.187guidance (1981) Channels of communication 3.266 1.052between faculty and studentsregarding student needs,concerns and suggestions(1981) Cronbach's Alpha (1981) = 9.14 2.970.828, (N=2253)* Quality of academic guidance 3.243 1.107
10 of 16(1986) Quality of vocational 3.805 1.149guidance (1986) Channels of communication 3.270 1.040between faculty and studentsregarding student needs,concerns and suggestions(1986) Cronbach's Alpha (1986) = 9.24 2.900.841, (N=2241)* Quality of academic guidance 3.138 1.110(1991) Quality of vocational 2.741 1.200guidance (1991) Channels of communication 3.254 1.040between faculty and studentsregarding student needs,concerns and suggestions(1991) Cronbach's Alpha (1991) = 9.05 2.860.836, (N=2232)*1 Item scale ranged from 1 to 5, i.e., "low satisf action" to "high satisfaction". Items were summed up to construct faculty guidan ce index.Impact of Faculty Excellence and Program Satisfacti on on Attitude Toward the University In this section of the article, we use the two ind exes as predictors to explain students' attitude towards the alma mater (See Note 2). The a ttitude towards the University for the four time periods was regressed on a set of demographic variables and the two indexes, and the results are displayed in Table 6. Although it makes stringe nt demands on the data, OLS regression estimates the collective capability of a set of ind ependent variables to predict the values of a dependent variable, and indicates the relative pred ictive power of one factor net of other predictor effects. Included in the model were gende r, age, degree received, campus site (Note 3), geographical location, employment status, salary ea rned, and the two indexes related to program satisfaction and faculty excellence. Age, salary ea rned and the two indexes related to program satisfaction and faculty excellence were interval s cale variables and the other five predictors were coded as dichotomous (Note 4). Table 6 reports the standardized regression estima te and standard error for each significant predictor, the critical value for each as estimated by a one-tailed T-test, the overall adjusted R2 and the number of cases on which the model is estim ated. The p values that are given in the last column of Table 6 represent the significance of eac h predictor in explaining the overall model. To be conservative in our estimate, the decision wa s made to judge the strength of each predictor at the critical value of .0015. An inspection of data in Table 6 demonstrates that in all four waves, baccalaureate degree holders, campus location and the two scales related to program satisfaction and faculty guidance emerged as significant predictors of attitude towar ds the University. The data depicts that in all four waves, baccalaureates had a more positive outl ook than the professionals in their attitude towards the University. In other words, one year af ter graduation, women baccalaureates from the Urbana campus who scored high on the program satisf action and faculty guidance indexes had a
11 of 16more positive attitude toward the University. Howev er, gender appeared as a significant variable in predicting attitude towards the University only one year after graduation. The pattern which emerges after ten years revealed that bachelor degr ee holders from the Urbana campus who scored high ratings on the program satisfaction and faculty guidance indexes proclaim positive feelings towards their educational institution. Int erestingly, salary emerged as a significant predictor after an interval of five and fifteen yea rs in predicting positive attitude toward the university. The data seems to indicate that satisfa ction with the university is correlated with the success of baccalaureate graduates in their transit ion to work. How well does the first model fit the data? The overall adjusted R2 indicates a moder ate fit. Measurement error undoubtedly sapped predictive potency. However, the data provid es good information on factors that shape and mold attitude towards the educational instituti on. Table 6 OLS REGRESSION OF ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE UNIVERSITY IN FOUR TIME PERIODS Predictors Standadrdized Standard T S ignificance Estimate Error of value L evel Beta Program satisfactionindex 1977 0.347 0.004 15.63 0 .0001 1981 0.350 0.003 15.03 0 .0001 1986 0.369 0.003 16.16 0 .0001 1991 0.396 0.003 16.93 0 .0001 Faculty guidance Index 1977 0.170 0.004 7.59 0 .0001 1981 0.098 0.004 4.02 0 .0001 1986 0.099 0.004 4.23 0 .0001 1991 0.096 0.006 4.04 0 .0001 Campus (1=Urbana) 1977 0.196 0.030 10.26 0 .0001 1981 0.201 0.028 9.68 0 .0001 1986 0.174 0.027 8.85 0 .0001 1991 0.146 0.028 7.56 0 .0001 Bachelors (1=Bachelors) 1977 0.104 0.028 4.71 0 .0001 1981 0.208 0.053 4.49 0 .0001 1986 0.136 0.039 3.79 0 .0002
12 of 16 1991 0.146 0.034 4.92 0 .0001 Salary 1981 0.082 0.000 3.54 0 .0004 1991 0.076 0.000 3.66 0 .0003 Gender(1=Male) 1977 -0.069 0.028 -3.15 0 .001 Adjusted R2=0.264 Adjusted R2=0.227 AdjustedR2=0. 217 Adjusted R2=0.233(1977) (1981) (1986) (1991) (N=2116) (N=2115) (N=2119) (N=2122) Conclusion Alumni surveys have been used by colleges and univ ersities for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. This article is a penetrating study of alumni attitudes towards the University of Illinois over a period of fifteen years. The ext ended period involved in this analysis helped us to appreciate the enduring influence of higher educ ation in students' lives and the important role of a good university education. This panel data on alumni attitudes towards the academic environment indicates that contrary to evidence fro m past research, students develop a stronger attachment towards the educational institution with the passage of time. A similar positive pattern was evident when examining the attitude tow ards program major. It is possible that better experience in the real world has made the alumni ev aluate the quality of education they received at the University of Illinois. Also, favorable disp osition toward one's institution seems to be, to a very considerable extent, the result of the college 's contribution to the intellectual development of the student. This fact was reinforced by students' high ratings on the "program satisfaction" and "faculty guidance" indexes in predicting a positive attitude toward the university. It is evident from this analysis that the focus of colleges and universities should be on efforts to improve the quality of education through academic advising, mentoring programs and career exploration, and planning. Notably, follow u p studies of graduates' employment experiences, and satisfaction with the institution and major program of study would provide valuable feedback to the University to help assess and monitor student and institution performance. Systematic graduate follow-up survey i nformation helps set the stage for universities to review programs within different di sciplines. The information obtained from the alumni survey can be used as a standard against whi ch the university can compare the employment and satisfaction of its graduates in ord er to identify programs for additional review and for making program improvements. In addition, t he universities can use the follow-up information in assisting currently enrolled student s in program selection and career planning. At both campus and state levels, systematic informatio n on the employment, further education, and satisfaction of graduates is important to documenti ng educational accountability. It is important to study college graduates to unde rstand the evaluation of their own educational experiences and how they envision highe r education as a major social institution. Alumni research, along with other outcome measures, can be used for a variety of purposes. Applications include academic program review and ev aluation, student retention, institutional planning, marketing, and public relations. Alumni o utcomes can be used for assessing the effectiveness of the general education program. Inf ormation on student outcomes can be used in
13 of 16institutional planning and budget review at several levels. The insights derived from these surveys on students progress could be provided to e mployers and public on how well educational programs address labor market needs. For administra tors, alumni information provides guidance about the strengths and weaknesses of various aspec ts of the whole university. In a broader perspective, this research has great relevance to t he University's image, which affects future development in terms of public relations and studen t recruitment. The results of this study were intended to assist universities in program reviews and in providing a basis for improving graduates' educational experiences. Appendix Repeated measures analysis is a powerful statistic al design, since the variability due to individual differences is removed from the error te rm which causes error variances (Stevens, 1986). The three assumptions for a single group Uni variate repeated measures analysis are: independence of observations multivariate normality sphericity All of the above assumptions were met in our analy sis. The independence of observation is by far the most important assumption, for even a small violation of it produces a substantial effect on both the level of significance and power of the F statistics (Stevens, 1986). It has been argued by some scholars that under certain conditio ns, independence of observations may or may not be tenable (Glass & Hopkins, 1984, p. 353): Whenever the treatment is individually administered observations are independent. But where treatments involve interaction among pers ons, such as "discussion" method or group counseling, the observations may in fluence each other. In our case, the implementation of survey question naire excludes any possibility of dependence among the observations. The sphericity assumption requires that variances of the differences for all pairs of variables be equal (Stevens, 1986). In other words, the sphericity assumption states that the covariance matrix for the difference variables is a diagonal matrix, with equal variances on the diagonal. The extent to which the covariance matrix deviates from sphericity is reflected in a parameter called I (epsilon), and if sphericity is met, then I=1. The assumption of sphericity was tenable in our two repeated measures design. Also, repeated measures analysis of variance is fa irly robust (Note 6) against violation of multivariate normality. A scholar notes that "even for distributions which depart markedly from normality, sums of 50 or more observations approxim ate to normality" (Bock, 1975, p. 25). In our analysis, the first repeated measures design wa s based on 2290 observations and the second analysis had 2249 observations.Notes There are some limitations in panel research like p anel mortality, contamination through repeated measurements, and the changing meanings of instrument items (Markus, 1979). Since the research relies on data collected through a mail survey, the length of the instrument becomes a matter of concern. This constr aint makes it difficult for the researcher to ask respondents all the questions one wishes to ask, e.g., those related to the 1.
14 of 16 life-experiences of alumni after graduation.Attitude towards the University was a close-ended s cale which ranged from 1 to 4, from "strongly negative" to "strongly positive." 2. The University of Illinois has two campuses at Chic ago and Urbana-Champaign. The overall quality of the University places it among t he nation's top institutions of higher education. However, the Urbana campus ranks much hi gher in terms of academic achievement than Chicago. 3. Age and Salary were coded as an open-ended scale. T he two indexes related to program satisfaction and faculty guidance were created afte r computing Cronbach's Alpha, and then summing up the relevant items. Gender, campus, geog raphical location and employment status were coded as dichotomous variables, 0 or 1. The value of 1 for gender represents male students. The Urbana-Champaign campus was code d as 1. Respondents from Illinois were coded as 1 for the geographical location varia ble, and people who were currently employed were coded 1 for employment status. For th e degree level, we created three dummy variables, Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral, a nd the Professional degree holders were treated as the reference group. 4. The model is being tested at a tighter alpha level to control for positive bias and to prevent any occurrence for capitalizing on chance. 5. Robust means that the actual alpha is close to the nominal alpha. 6.ReferencesBock, R.D. (1975). Multivariate statistical methods in behavioral research. New York: McGraw Hill.Glass, G.V. & Hopkins, K. (1984). Statistical Metho ds in Education and Psychology. Engelwood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Markus, Gregory B. (199). Analyzing Panel Data. Bev erly Hills / London: SAGE Publications. Melchiori, G. (1988). Alumni Research: An Introduct ion. New Directions for Institutional Research, 60, 1-11.Moden, G.O. & .Williford, M.A. (1988). Applying Alu mni Research to Decision Making. New Directions for Institutional Research, 60, 67-75.Pace, C. R. (1979). Measuring Outcomes of College: Fifty Years of Findings and Recommendations for the Future. San Francisco: Joss ey-Bass. Rich, H.E. & Jolicoeur, P.H. (1978). Student Attitu des and Academic Environments: A Study of California Higher Education. New York: Praeger Publ ishers. Spaeth, J.L. & Greeley, A.M. (1970). Recent Alumni and Higher Education: A Survey of College Graduates. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company.Stevens, J. (1986). Applied Multivariate Statistics for the Social Sciences. First edition. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Stover, W.S. (1930). Alumni Stimulation By the Amer ican College President. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
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16 of 16Dennis Sayersdmsayers@ucdavis.edu Jay Scribnerjayscrib@tenet.edu Robert Stonehillrstonehi@inet.ed.gov Robert T. Stoutstout@asu.edu