2017 Survey of Undergraduates

What is the 2017 Survey of Undergraduates?

All enrolled undergraduates were invited by the University of Chicago Library to participate in a survey in February 2017.

This survey was conducted in partnership with Ithaka S+R, the research and strategy group that also designed and administered the Library’s 2015 Survey of Graduate and Professional School Students. These surveys were conducted as part of the Library’s ongoing survey program; undergraduates were last surveyed in 2011.

What did the survey cover?

Like the 2015 Survey of Graduate and Professional School Students, this survey explored students’ experience at and perceptions of the University of Chicago through modules focused on:

  • Higher Education Objectives
  • Coursework and Academics
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Role of the Library
  • Library Space Planning

The survey instrument was developed by Ithaka S+R to be administered in parallel with the graduate student instrument previously used by the Library; as a result, direct comparisons can be drawn between the two populations.

Who took the survey?

The survey was distributed on February 7, 2017 to 5,689 enrolled undergraduates over the age of 18. 1,100 completed responses were received by March 3, 2017, yielding a 19% response rate. While survey responses rates by demographic groupings are generally representative of campus populations, women are overrepresented, and international students are underrepresented.



Research Skills and Opportunities

Nearly half of undergraduate respondents rate their current abilities on common research tasks as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, and the majority of respondents believe that the research skills they expect to acquire while at the University will be very or extremely useful in helping them attain their desired job or career. However, responses to this and the previous survey express collective uncertainty regarding who on campus has responsibility for developing these skills. Fortunately, survey responses demonstrated that when undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in Library instruction, they feel more confident in their research skills and abilities.

The Library as Space

Undergraduate respondents use the Library as a working and – to a lesser extent – social space. They value spaces dedicated to study, and use these spaces to work and study independently or in groups. Respondents highly value the range of services outlined in the survey, though the services are but a small portion of what the Library offers to its patrons.

Worth celebrating are the strong indications that undergraduates are happy with the general safety, location, and hours of the Libraries. Nearly all respondents indicated that they feel at least somewhat safe when traveling to or from their preferred Library, though some express concerns about visiting after dark. The majority of respondents find their preferred Library’s location and hours to be at least somewhat convenient, though these responses are challenged by a vocal minority who expressed frustration with the Library’s hours, with many of these responses highlighting the scarcity of quiet study spaces after midnight.

Survey analysis and reporting conducted by Elizabeth Edwards, Greg Fleming, Taylor Hixson, David Larsen, Kaitlin Springmier, Rebecca Starkey, Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Catherine Uecker, and Debra Werner.