Abstract:When colleges try to understand their students, they resort to a common tool: the survey.
And surveys are fine, says Dayna Weintraub, director of student-affairs research and assessment at Rutgers University at New Brunswick. But she also recognizes their drawbacks: poor response rates, underrepresentation of particular demographic groups, and, in certain instances, answers that lack needed candor.
And so, to assess and change student conduct in a more effective way, Weintraub and her colleagues have tried a new approach: find existing, direct, and detailed data on how Rutgers students conduct themselves, and combine them.
Leading the effort was Kevin Pitt, director of student conduct at the New Jersey university. Working alongside Weintraub, he and his team analyzed, with granular specificity, the behavior patterns of students in a variety of contexts: consuming excessive alcohol or drugs, in questionable sexual situations, and others. Pitt and his team examined student-level trends within those areas, combining a variety of previously siloed databases to sketch a more-informative picture of student life at Rutgers.