Most final projects are simply culminations of what one has, in theory, learned throughout the year; as a result, they tend to remain in the realm of the academic and abstract. However, for Klara Bilgin’s Global Governance class, simple gripes about the state of the St. Mary’s campus turned into a final project that attempted to investigate the very heart of what students like (and don’t like) about their stay at St. Mary’s.
The investigation took the form of surveys and interviews conducted over the spring semester for the Global Governance class, a course where students study the mechanics of governing bodies such as the United Nations. According to Professor of Political Science Klara Bilgin, the course’s instructor, the idea evolved from anecdotes and complaints students brought up in class regarding issues on campus, such as the state of certain dorms and administrative offices. The survey was an “impromptu experiment for [myself] and the students,” said Bilgin, meant to create a memorable experience beyond the normal final project and identify the best and worst parts of campus life.
According to Bilgin, the general trend of the data suggested a generally favorable view of the college, and that “students want more of the college.” She also said that the data highlighted a very interesting paradox, in that “[students] want the feeling of a small college…but at the same time [they] want the resources of a big university.”
The final results, which were compiled over the summer, show the highest overall satisfaction marks (in descending order) went to services offered by the library, Campus Center, and Michael P O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center (ARC). The lowest marks went to the campus’s “technology infrastructure”, which included cable television, phone service, and Internet; the accessibility of transportation to and from town; and parking.
In order to formulate the survey, Bilgin separated the class into four sections, which would correspond to four major facets of campus life: academics, student life, administrative offices and dorms, and career opportunities and internships. From here, students organized and created the survey. Most questions asked students to rate certain campus services from one to five, one being the lowest and fine the highest.
In total, 193 students responded to the survey (around 10 percent of the student population), which Bilgin emphasized was not large enough to be technically representative from a scientific and statistical standpoint. However, she did say that from an informal standpoint it was “very interesting” and that its informality may have led to more frank responses during the interviews.
“All the comments were very genuine,” said Bilgin. “You could see how people felt uncensored.” She also stated that this survey could act as a jumping off point for future surveys with more formality and scientific relevance.
After the data was compiled, the final results were also sent to college President Joseph Urgo and Provost Larry Vote. Although no official changes have yet occurred as a result of the survey, Bilgin said that she felt confident that it would act as one of the many forms of input for the new president. She also said that, much like in the larger scale of political regime change, a new president is a “window of opportunity” for changes like those suggested by the survey results to take root.
Bilgin said that, overall, a survey such as this was a “tremendously huge achievement,” considering the fact that the whole survey was formulated, administered, and analyzed in the span of a few short months. She said, “it [started as] just a project for a class, but it became so much more”.
To see the full survey results, including a question-by-question breakdown, visit http://thepointnews.com.