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Students at Smaller Colleges More Likely to Say Faculty Care
Education

Students at Smaller Colleges More Likely to Say Faculty Care

Students at Smaller Colleges More Likely to Say Faculty Care

Story Highlights

  • Nearly half of students at smaller colleges believe faculty care about them
  • About one in four students at larger colleges say the same
  • Participation in extracurriculars slightly less common at larger institutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A survey of currently enrolled U.S. college students by Gallup and Strada Education Network reveals significant differences by institution size in students' likelihood to have had several key experiences indicating supportive relationships with professors and mentors. Most notably, 45% of students at colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 students -- which often have lower student-to-faculty ratios -- strongly agree that their professors care about them as people, compared with 24% among those at institutions with 5,000 students or more.

Students at Smaller Schools More Likely to Feel Support From Faculty, Mentors
On a five-point scale, where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree, please rate your level of agreement with the following items. (% Strongly agree)
Enrollment <5,000 Enrollment 5,000+
% %
My professors at [Institution] care about me as a person. 45 24
I have at least one professor at [Institution] who makes me excited about learning. 66 56
I have a mentor at [Institution] who encourages me to pursue my goals and dreams. 34 23
Strongly agree with all three items 25 12
Strada-Gallup College Student Survey

The three survey items measuring students' experiential learning opportunities (including internships, extracurricular activities and long-term research projects) do not vary as substantially by institution size, although students at larger universities are slightly less likely than those at smaller institutions to have had each experience. For example, 44% of students at schools with enrollment under 5,000 say they have had an internship or job that allows them to apply what they have learned, versus 39% of those at institutions with at least 5,000 students.

School Size Makes Little Difference in Likelihood to Have Had Internship, Job Relevant to Studies
While attending [Institution], have you had an internship or job that allows you to apply what you're learning in the classroom?
Enrollment <5,000 Enrollment 5,000+
% %
Yes 44 39
No 56 61
Strada-Gallup College Student Survey

Students' likelihood to say they are extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations ranges from 17% among those at larger institutions to 21% among those at smaller schools. And students at smaller universities are somewhat more likely than those at larger institutions to say they have worked on a project that took at least a semester to complete.

Participation in Experiential Learning Opportunities Similar at Smaller and Larger Universities
On a five-point scale, where 5 means strongly agree and 1 means strongly disagree, please rate your level of agreement with the following items. (% Strongly agree)
Enrollment <5,000 Enrollment 5,000+
% %
I am extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations. 21 17
While at [Institution], I have worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete. 26 23
Strada-Gallup College Student Survey

Implications

Many smaller colleges and universities do not offer the variety of majors and courses or extensive research facilities often found at larger institutions -- but maintain that their students receive other advantages, including more personalized attention from professors and advisers.

These survey results confirm that smaller institutions outperform larger ones on the three experiences that relate to having supportive relationships with professors and mentors, reflecting the known challenges that faculty often face at bigger schools in establishing meaningful connections with students, especially in the context of large class sizes.

However, prior academic research has indicated that even in low-contact relationships, instructors can focus on actions that lower interpersonal boundaries with students -- such as using personal examples and humor when discussing course material, getting into conversations with individual students before and after class, and routinely soliciting students' opinions about coursework.

Gallup

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/246083/students-smaller-colleges-likely-say-faculty-care.aspx
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