University News

Herald Poll: Students more satisfied with advising

By and
Senior Staff Writer and News Editor
Friday, November 6, 2009
This article is part of the series Herald Poll

Student satisfaction with academic advising is on the rise — 10 percent higher this fall than a year and a half ago, a recent Herald poll found. Nearly 60 percent of students reported they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with advising, compared to just under 50 percent in spring 2008.

A plurality of students, 40.6 percent, responded that they were somewhat satisfied and 19.1 percent said they were very satisfied.

First-years were much more likely than upperclassmen to approve of the advising system, with 75.1 percent reporting satisfaction, while this number dropped to 53.9 percent among the rest of the student body. Both numbers were significantly higher than they were in 2008, though that poll was conducted later in the academic year.

Administrators have changed many aspects of the advising system recently, including a revamped Faculty Fellows program and the addition of Advising Central, which makes faculty members available throughout the week.

The Herald poll was conducted from Nov. 2 through Nov. 4 and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 687 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which The Herald administered as a written questionnaire to students in the University Mail Room at J. Walter Wilson during the day and in the Sciences Library at night.

A year after being elected president, Barack Obama remains popular among Brown students — though he enjoys less popularity than last year. The poll found that 77.2 percent of respondents approved of the way he is handling his job, while most national polls rank his job approval at about 50 percent. Of the poll’s respondents, 57.4 percent said they somewhat approved of Obama’s job and 19.8 percent said they strongly approved. In last fall’s Herald poll, conducted just before the election, 86.1 percent of students reported that they would vote for him.

Seven months after the last poll, many students are still about as concerned about their families’ ability to finance their education. While 59.4 percent were confident of their ability to finance their Brown education, 38.1 percent reported being worried, including 10.3 percent reporting that they were very worried.

Student opinion of President Ruth Simmons remains high, with 77.5 percent of respondents reporting approval and 3.6 percent disapproval. The distribution between those who strongly approved and those who somewhat approved was nearly even. 18.8 percent said they did not know or had no answer.

Approval of the Undergraduate Council of Students is relatively unchanged since last semester’s poll. Of those polled, 48.7 percent strongly or somewhat approved of UCS, with 10 percent reporting disapproval. 41.2 percent said they did not know or had no answer as opposed to 35.5 percent last year.

The poll found that a plurality of students support reinstating the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University, which was disbanded here in 1971. Though more than one-third of respondents said that they did not know or had no answer, 41.3 percent of students said they would approve of reinstating ROTC, compared to 24.9 percent who said they would disapprove of reinstating it.

In the past month, about three-quarters of undergraduates have used alcohol and about one-third have used marijuana, the poll found. At 77.9 percent and 32.3 percent, respectively, they were the two most-commonly used substances. They were followed by tobacco (18.3 percent), prescription painkillers taken without a prescription (3.9 percent), amphetamines (3.8 percent) and cocaine (2.6 percent). Levels of substance use have not significantly changed since the fall 2007 Herald poll.

In this semester’s poll, higher numbers of males reported using marijuana than females — 39.1 percent to 26.4 percent. Also, significantly fewer first-years — 67.8 percent — reported using alcohol than upperclassmen, 82.8 percent of whom said they had drunk alcohol in the past month. (Due to smaller sample sizes, there are margins of error of 5.2 percent for male respondents, 4.9 percent for female respondents, 6.9 percent for freshman respondents and 4.2 percent for upperclassman respondents).

Of those polled, 17.1 percent indicated that they had engaged in some form of academic dishonesty this semester, most commonly by copying answers off another student’s homework or using outside resources in their work without citing them properly.

About half of the students have attended at least one varsity sporting event as spectators this semester. First-years were more likely to have attended a game, with 59.4 percent responding that they had been to at least one game this semester compared to 47.3 percent of upperclassmen.

 

Poll Results

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Ruth Simmons is handling her job as president of Brown University?
Strongly approve: 39.7%
Somewhat approve: 37.8%
Somewhat disapprove: 2.9%
Strongly disapprove: 0.7 %
Don’t know / No answer: 18.8%

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS) is handling its job?
Strongly approve: 10.0%
Somewhat approve: 38.7%
Somewhat disapprove: 8.7%
Strongly disapprove: 1.3%
Don’t know / No answer: 41.2%

3. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with academic advising at Brown?
Very satisfied: 19.1%
Somewhat satisfied: 40.6%
Somewhat dissatisfied: 28.5%
Strongly dissatisfied: 9.6%
Don’t know / No answer: 2.2%

4. How confident or worried are you about your or your family’s ability to finance your Brown education?

Very confident: 33.2%
Somewhat confident: 26.2%
Somewhat worried: 27.8%
Very worried: 10.3%
Don’t know / No answer: 2.5%

5. Would you approve or disapprove of Brown reinstating the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, which was disbanded here in 1971?
Strongly approve: 17.9%
Somewhat approve: 23.4%
Somewhat disapprove: 12.8%
Strongly disapprove: 12.1%
Don’t know / No answer: 33.8%

6. How many times have you attended a Brown varsity sports game as a spectator this semester?
0 times: 49.5%
1-2 times: 29.1%
3-4 times: 10.3%
5-6 times: 4.7%
7 or more times: 6.3%
Don’t know / No answer: 0.1%

7. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President of the United States?
Strongly approve: 19.8%
Somewhat approve: 57.4%
Somewhat disapprove: 11.8%
Strongly disapprove: 4.5%
Don’t know / No answer: 6.6%

8. In the past month, which of the following substances — not prescribed to you — have you used?
Alcohol: 77.9%
Marijuana: 32.3%
Tobacco: 18.3%
Prescription Painkillers: 3.9%
Amphetamines (including prescription stimulants): 3.8%
Cocaine: 2.6%
Ecstasy (MDMA): 1.3%
Psychedelic Mushrooms: 1.3%
LSD: 1.0%
Opium: 0.7%
Nitrous Oxide: 0.3%
Phencyclidine (PCP: 0.3%
Heroin: 0.0%
Other: 0.4%
None of the Above: 19.8%
Don’t Know / No answer: 0.9%

9. Have you done any of the following in class this semester?
Copied answers off another student’s homework: 12.4%
Used outside resources in your own work without proper citation: 4.2%
Copied answers off another student’s quiz, test or exam: 2.3%
Obtained unauthorized test materials in advance: 1.6%
Used notes on a closed-book quiz, test or exam: 0.7%
Submitted someone else’s work as your own in a paper, presentation or lab report: 0.4%
I have n
ot done any of the above: 80.1%
Don’t know/No answer: 2.8%

 

Methodology

Written questionnaires were administered to 687 undergraduates from Nov. 2 to 4 at the University Mail Room in J. Walter Wilson in the mornings and afternoons of Nov. 2, 3 and 4 and at the Sciences Library on the nights of Nov. 2 and 3. To ensure random sampling, pollsters approached every third person and asked each one to complete a poll. The poll has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence.

The sample polled was demographically similar to the Brown undergraduate population as a whole. The sample was 53.4 percent female, 46.1 percent male and 0.4 percent other. First-years made up 26.2 percent of the sample, 28.2 percent were sophomores, 22.4 percent were juniors and 23.1 percent were seniors. 63.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 24.9 percent Asian, 9.2 percent Hispanic, 5.5 percent identified as black or African-American, 1.0 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.6 percent Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 0.4 percent identified with a racial group or ethnicity not listed and 2.2 percent chose not to answer. The sum of the percentages is greater than 100 percent due to respondents who identified with multiple ethnic or racial groups.

Senior Staff Writer Hannah Moser ’12 and News Editor Seth Motel ’11 coordinated the poll. Herald section editors, senior staff writers and other staff members conducted the poll.