Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Measuring interest in a new program.

I'm attempting to propose a new minor in my department.  I thought some data on student interest would be useful.  I sat down to write a survey, at which time I realized that I don't know:
  1. What to ask.
  2. How many questions to ask.
  3. Who to ask.
My original idea was something along the lines of. 
  1. would you be interested in a minor in gerbil fur weaving if it existed?
  2. which of the following electives would most interest you, if they were offered:
    1. weaving of gerbil fur for medical professionals
    2. the structure of gerbil fur
    3. the suitability of gerbil fur substitutes in the hamster fur weaving environment
    4. other (please specify) __________
  3. would you be interested in a major in gerbil fur?
  4. if you are a hamster fur weaving education major, would a minor in gerbil fur weaving interest you if it would fulfill the state's teaching certification requirements for a 2nd certification in gerbil fur weaving?
I thought I would write something up and as for volunteers in hamster fur weaving, hamster fur grooming, counting hamsters, modeling hamsters and hamster fur weaving education to give them to their students after class on a day that suits them.  I thought I'd also ask the one gerbil fur weaver we have in our department to pass them out to his students in our only gerbil fur course.

But then I thought... we are the State College in our area, very close to one of the University Centers in our system.  The University Center has a comparable undergraduate program in hamster fur, but a kick ass program in gerbil fur.  Should I see if I can go to college fairs and poll students with a few more questions such as:
  1. Are you interested in gerbil fur weaving, or gerbil fur weaving education?
  2. Would lack of gerbil fur weaving curriculum influence your decision to attend State College vs. University Center?
  3. If you are considering University Center, would the addition of a gerbil fur weaving program to State College's offerings affect your decision?
I'm very early in the process.  I was wondering if anyone had either questions they think they would ask if they wanted to propose a new program, or suggestions for who I should poll.   I would be very interested in any ideas the CM crowd could throw my way. 



  1. Based on my experience, asking questions about interest is a waste of time. Yes, many students are interested. Interest is necessary but not sufficient. For example, I'm interested in learning to cook Chinese food but I'll never get off my ass to do it. You need to know who will sign up for classes. To do that, you have to offer the classes. Start with a few electives and see where it goes.

  2. Perhaps you could measure how students see said minor? With a question like "If State U offered a new minor in Gender and Gerbil Studies, how might you be able to apply that to your long-term goals/career/existing degree plan?"

  3. I know on our campus, our institutional research group is really great at formulating questions that will give you quantifiable data from such a survey. I would recommend talking to someone in an equivalent department at your institution.


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