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Project Title:Electronic Tracking of Student Engagement with Political Engagement ProgrammingInstitution Name:Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Innovation Category:Research and Regional Stewardship Project Director:Peter Baratta, Assistant to the Provost, Academic AffairsContact Information:(609) 626-6080 , Peter.Baratta@stockton.eduWebsite:http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=14&pageID=133
Project Description:As the Political Engagement Project (PEP) developed patterns of campus events to which we wanted to draw our students, finding out how to best engage students so that they continued their involvement after the event became a primary goal. With magnetic strip student ID cards in use, gathering data about student attendance proved to be relatively easy and very affordable. Further, once we collected the attendance data, the student information database could be easily mined for enormous amounts of relevant statistics as well.

The PEP team worked across the campus to:

  • Coordinate details about events relevant to the program,
  • Provide comprehensive calendars electronically to faculty for use in planning their syllabi, and
  • Send reminders to faculty and students about upcoming events.

The more coordinated efforts resulted in improved attendance, but we wanted to continue to improve student engagement beyond just attending the events. Thus, we looked for ways to:

  1. Track the attendance of the students,
  2. Determine what got them there, and;
  3. Measure the longer term impact of the event on students’ political engagement. 
  • Captured and analyzed attendance details confirmed that the best way to get students to an event is for faculty to either require it as a class assignment or to provide extra credit for students who voluntarily attended.
  • Analyzed data also demonstrated that attendance could be effectively encouraged across the curriculum, with many of the most successful faculty efforts coming from courses outside the Political Science and related disciplines.
  • Attending students were then surveyed for their reactions to events, which provided feedback on how their political engagement might be changed by their attendance and increased awareness.
Challenges/Problems Encountered:The biggest challenge in getting feedback from both the faculty and the students was getting them to respond to surveys, and response rates were typically low. In order to promote higher response rates from students, they were assured of anonymity and motivated with the possibility of winning a $25 gift card to various retail outlets. In order to protect the anonymity of the students, the surveys could only be sent as a URL link embedded in a broadcast email to attendees, but they had to self-identify with their ID number in order to be eligible for the gift card drawing. 
Evaluation Approach:Data capture was handled by the Provost’s staff, and the detailed databases were then provided to faculty members on the PEP team for analysis and further research. Details for each attendee included their email, class standing (senior, junior, etc.), major, enrolled credits, freshman or transfer admission, residential or commuter status, enrolled courses, and faculty of the enrolled courses. The database details facilitated subsequent inquiries by emailed surveys.
Potential for Replication:
  • Adoption of magnetic strip ID cards for students was a critical factor that allowed for easy data capture at low cost.
  • Data analysis aided by a graduate assistant in the first round.
  • Survey service provided by Students Affairs Office aided in gathering feedback.
  • Funding and support from administration were essential to facilitate the process.
  • Results of the evaluation process were provided by faculty research on the data analysis and follow-up surveys.
CEO-to-CEO Contact:Herman J. Saatkamp, Jr. , Presidentpresident@stockton.edu
(609) 652-4521
Date Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011