Augie Choice – participation in the big three

Over the last several years, Augustana has increasingly encouraged students to participate in an internship, study abroad, or undergraduate research.  As a result, our participation rates have increased and more of our students are gaining the benefits of these potentially powerful learning experiences. Yet while we track the participation rates for each of these educational experiences separately, we haven’t talked as much about the degree to which students who participate in any one of these experiences actually participate in multiple experiences, thereby making the total percentage of students who engage in any of these experiences substantively lower than we might like to think.   In addition, we have not yet thought as much about how to systematically ensure that each student engages in the kind of experiential learning that best fits their educational needs and goals.

To get a better handle on these questions, I looked at the senior survey data from the spring of 2008 and 2009.  For context purposes, here are the separate participation rates for study abroad, internships, and undergraduate research (just to clarify, undergraduate research is defined as working with a faculty member on a research project).

  • Study abroad                                     39.5%
  • Internships                                         44.1%
  • Undergraduate Research                  16.6%

However, it is clear that there are quite a few students engaged in multiple activities.  So, after re-examining the data, here is the percentage of students who did or did not participate in at least one of these activities.

  • Students who participated in at least one activity:                          67%
  • Students who did not participate in any activities:                          33%

Thus, while a majority of our students are gaining the benefits of one of these “high impact activities,” a substantial proportion of them are not.

While there might be many varied and valid reasons for the 33% who did not participate in any of these activities, I’d like to highlight one difference between those who did and did not participate for you to ponder – the relative proportion of men and women in each group.  Again, for context, in this dataset 58.8% of the respondents were female and 41.2% were male.

Among those who participated in at least one activity, 64.7% were female and 35.3% were male.

Among those who did not participate in any of these activities, 47% were female and 53% were male.

Is this participation gap a reason for concern?  If so, what could we do about it?

Make it a good day,


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