CIRP Freshman Survey
Ten Year Trends
by Larry Smith, J.D., Planning Associate
Looking at ten year trends recorded through the Cooperative Institute Research Project (CIRP) Freshman Survey at Eastern New Mexico University seems to reveal that we are not living in a decade of either upward or downward trends in attitudes, either those of general interest or those particularly related to college students.
The graphics, which are on following pages, are replete with lines resembling the landscape of eastern New Mexico on the subjects of capital punishment, whether a college degree increases earning power, civil disobedience for matters of personal value, an individual's ability to have a hand in changing society, drug testing in the work place, and on three of the questions that relate to satisfaction with Eastern. You will note from the graphs that not every question was asked each of the ten years.
Interestingly, of all eleven questions highlighted in this DATAWave issue, the one relating to legalization of marijuana shows the most change - a ten year increase of more than 10% of those students who believe marijuana should be legalized. Proponents of legalizing marijuana should not take too much heart, as the upward trend still only takes Easterns students to a 20% minority who favor legalization. Among the conclusions one could draw are (a) that the use of marijuana is becoming more popular or (b) that students believe that law enforcement efforts with regard to marijuana use are ineffective - leaving us with lingering doubts as to the trend on that subject.
The trend regarding students who believe they will transfer to a university other than Eastern bottomed out in 1996 at 10% and climbed a bit in '97, though remaining well below the 1993 figure that peaked above 20%.
Throughout the ten year period, freshmen have remained confident that they will not drop out of Eastern, either temporarily or permanently. The percentage of students thinking that there was a good chance they would drop out was negligible in both categories. While such optimism is laudable in many respects, we might consider whether a touch of realism injected into freshmen at Eastern might produce an approach to academic effort that would reduce the actual drop out rate.
The subject of whether racial discrimination is no longer a problem shows a drop in 1993 from the 20% in 1987 believing that it was no longer a problem. One can be hopeful that continued emphasis on diversity was a factor in bringing that percentage back up to 20 in 1997, but indifference could also be the cause of the return to the 1987 position.
Assessment Resource Office, Station 9
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, NM 88130