I posted recently about our 13-school peer comparison group for the 2006 PSOL and how this would be our best group for benchmarking since they are all two year schools. It is also necessary to look a little deeper to make sure that the respondents are similar so I compared the demographics of the two groups.
- Ours were 81.6% female, theirs were 78.7% female. Females generally give more favorable satisfaction ratings on such surveys (unless they are being surveyed about their husbands).
- Ours were 46.2% age 24 and under, theirs were 34.2% in that age range. Younger students tend to give lower satisfaction ratings than the older age groups.
- 58.2% of ours indicated that they were primarily online students, compared to 59.7% of theirs. It has been my experience that those who identify themselves as mainly online tend to look more favorably upon their experience learning online than those who consider themselves to be primarily on-campus learners just taking an online course or two.
- 61.2% of our students indicated that they are taking full-time class loads, compared to 47.1% of the peer group students. Part-time students tend to rate their satisfaction more highly than full-time students.
- It was almost a draw for the percentage indicating that their educational goal was to complete an online degree program: 21.9% for us and 22.7% for them.
- Even more of a draw for the percentage indicating that their educational goal was to complete an on-campus degree program: 34.7% for us and 35.0% for them.
- For our students, 62.1% indicated that they had taken 0-3 previous online courses, while 75% of the peer group had that same level of previous experience. From a pure logic perspective (or maybe it is common sense), those with more experience with online courses tend to have higher satisfaction ratings, with the best measure of their satisfaction being their continued enrollment in more online courses.
Therefore, the question to be answered is whether our student group would tend to be more favorable than the peer student group. Here is my opinion:
- Gender: slight bias in favor of high LSC satisfaction ratings, but not much.
- Age: significant bias against high LSC satisfaction ratings.
- Primarily online: no significant difference.
- Part-time class loads: significant bias against high LSC satisfaction ratings.
- Educational goal: no significant difference.
- Previous online experience: significant bias in favor of high LSC satisfaction ratings.
The net result? I’d call it a draw, although really I think that there is a slight demographic bias against favorable satisfaction ratings for LSC compared to the peer group. The fact is that the LSC student satisfaction ratings were significantly higher than the peer group ratings. I’m arguing here that those are real differences, not caused by survey respondent biases. The first chart below shows how the LSC online students answered the questions about current plans/reasons for taking one or more online courses. The second chart is for the peer group of students.