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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

University Report Card: The Methodology

How the survey was done

The Globe and Mail


This year’s study includes the opinion of more than 26, 400 students who told Uthink, an on-line research and youth marketing firm, and The Strategic Counsel how they feel about their university experience - a 28% increase in the number of responses received last year.


The students who completed the survey were all studying at a Canadian university. They were all members of the StudentAwards.com on-line community and were invited to complete the survey.


The data and rankings presented here are based exclusively on student responses to the more than 100 questions on this year’s survey. Students were not asked to rank universities; in all cases students were asked about their personal experiences and perceptions. The survey was conducted entirely on-line. The integrity of the data collected for this study is protected by a number of on-line security features and data-validation techniques. Only those surveys which were completed in full and which passed a series of data tests were included in the final results for the 2003 study.


The number of university campuses included in this year’s rankings has grown to 38. The number of completed surveys at each campus included in the rankings ranges from 235 to 1,532. University campuses with fewer than 230 completed surveys are not included in the rankings; these schools have their results presented separately at the University Report Card Web site.


Responding to requests for change following last year’s Report Card, The Strategic Counsel and Uthink decided to modify the analysis and presentation of results this year, as Allan Gregg, chairman of The Strategic Counsel notes: “Last year, responding to what the data told us, we based the overall ranking on an index based on all the aspects of the university experience that the University Report Card measures. This year, we decided to rank all the subcategories using the ‘index’ approach. We believe that this change improves the University Report Card, while continuing to make it a useful tool for students, parents and others.”


Where schools have been compared and ranked, mean scores were used; these scores were calculated by combining the satisfaction scores for each of the elements of the overall category (e.g., “Quality of education”), each “weighted” according to its contribution to overall satisfaction.


In addition to the changes in the ranking within categories, the questionnaires were also improved this year to give students the opportunity to describe in their own words what they like - and don’t like - about each of the “overall” areas measured in the University Report Card. This information was used as the basis for the descriptions of 58 campuses that can be found at www.universityreportcard.com, where the complete results are available.



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