Using Surveys to Assess Effectiveness of First-gen Events

Terese Francis M.A., Doane University / The Center / January 02, 2020

Daone University FF

One of the 2019 First Forward goals set by the co-coordinators of Doane’s First Forward initiative, was to plan a university-wide First-generation College Student Celebration Week, which will become an annual university wide event. Because this was the first time all five campuses were included, a pre/post survey was developed to track how well the event increased awareness about barriers experienced by first-generation college students and to determine which modalities of communication during the event were most effective.

A pre-survey was sent out to all students, staff, and faculty on all campuses the Sunday before the week-long celebration started and before any information about first-generation students was shared via emails, social media, information displays, and display tables.

The event took place during the week of Monday, November 4 through Friday, November 8, 2019. Daily, university-wide emails featuring a first-gen faculty profile and one of the National Data Fact Sheets on first-generation college students were sent out each morning to generate excitement for the event. On Friday, Doane’s President emailed a letter that expressed his support of the weeklong event and shared that he was a first-gen student.

Additionally, first-gen swag, first-gen information, first-gen faculty profiles, and water bottles labeled with the University’s 1st Generation Proud logo were available at display tables prominently located on each campus during peak student hours. The Crete campus had their table from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm near the student center cafeteria. Other campuses had their tables in the foyers of the classroom buildings from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm prior to evening classes.

The post-survey was emailed to all students, staff, and faculty the Sunday after the event ended. This survey contained three additional questions, asking about increased awareness, preferred modalities for information, and most useful information learned.

Here are some results from those surveys:

  • 169 students, staff, and faculty from Crete, Lincoln, Omaha, Grand Island, and online campuses participated in the surveys;
  • 55% of the pre-survey participants were first-gen students—67% of the post-survey participants were first-gen students;
  • 10% of the participants in the pre-survey did not know if they were first-gen students or not—All of the participants in the post-survey knew if they were first-gen or not;
  • 80% of participants in the post-survey indicated their awareness of first-gen has increased as a result of the week’s celebration;
  • Participants in the post-survey indicated they increased their awareness from one or more of the following modalities:

          - reading daily emails (70%),

          - stopping at the display tables (41%),

          - reading President’s letter about first-gen Day (37%),

          - reading the information posted on displays (23%),

          - reading the information posted on social media (15%);

Over 200 students, staff, and faculty representing the Crete, Lincoln, Omaha, and Grand Island campuses posted tiger paws on displays indicating that they were first-generation college students.

The pre/post-surveys demonstrated that participants increased their awareness of first-gen and showed which communication modalities participants preferred.