UMAY Factor Analysis

Factor analysis permits grouping student responses on related UMAY survey questions into hypothetical dimensions, or “factors,” of the student experience. This makes it easier to compare individual students or groups of students (such as those who share a major) on broad dimensions such as “satisfaction with educational experience” and “engagement with studies.”
Primarily using varimax orthogonal rotation, our colleagues at UC-Berkeley analyzed student responses across the entire Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) consortium of institutions using the survey, and subsequently developed eight factors that summarize the student experience. This page provides a brief summary of each factor along with sample questions from the survey that contribute to that factor.
For more information, see Factor Structure and Reliability of the 2008 and 2009 SERU/UCUES Questionnaire Core, August 2009.

Factor 1: Satisfaction with Educational Experience
This factor measures student satisfaction, as its title suggests. Sample questions which contribute to this factor include:
Please rate your level of satisfaction with the following aspects of your University education.
• Grade point average
• Overall academic experience
• Value of your education for the price you’re paying
How satisfied are you with each of the following aspects of your educational experience in the major?
• Quality of lower/upper-division courses in your major
• Quality of faculty instruction
• Availability of courses needed for graduation
 
Factor 2: Current Skills Self-Assessment (Nonquantitative)
This factor leans on the skill self-assessment portion of the survey, excluding the quantitative skill questions. A sample question includes:
Please rate your level of proficiency in the following areas when you started at this campus and now.
• Analytical and critical thinking skills
• Ability to be clear and effective when writing
• Ability to read and comprehend academic material
 
Factor 3: Engagement with Studies
This factor measures a student’s engagement with studies, and is determined by questions about study habits, academic activities and connections with faculty. Questions include:
How frequently during this academic year have you done each of the following?
• Sought academic help from instructor or tutor when needed
• Worked on class projects or studied as a group with other classmates outside of class
How many professors do you know well enough to ask for a letter of recommendation in support of an application for a job or for graduate or professional school?
 
Factor 4: Gains in Self-Assessment of Skills (Nonquantitative)
This factor functions similarly to Factor 2, but measures gains in skill from the time of entry to the University to the present.

Factor 5: Development of Scholarship
This factor is based on questions about behaviors related to scholarship, both in general and specific terms. The questions include:
How frequently during this academic year have you done each of the following?
• Raised your standard for acceptable effort due to the high standards of a faculty member
• Extensively revised a paper at least once before submitting it to be graded
Thinking back over your coursework this academic year, how often were you REQUIRED to do the following?
• Recognize or recall specific facts, terms and concepts
• Explain methods, ideas or concepts and use them to solve problems
 
Factor 6: Campus Climate for Diversity
The questions that drive this factor relate to a student’s views on whether various kinds of diversity are respected on campus. They include:
Indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements:
• I feel free to express my political beliefs on campus
• I feel free to express my religious beliefs on campus
• Students are respected here regardless of their economic or social class
 
Factor 7: Academic Priorities and Habits
This factor operates differently in that it uses responses that indicate mostly negative behaviors (although some behaviors may be viewed as “neutral” except for the fact that they occupy time which could otherwise be spent studying). The questions used include:
How frequently during this academic year have you done each of the following:
• Turned in a course assignment late
• Gone to class without completing assigned reading
You told us earlier how much time you spend studying and working in a week. How many hours do you spend on each of these other activities in a typical 7-day week?
• Attending movies, concerts, sports or other entertainment events
• Participating in physical exercise, recreational sports, or physically active hobbies
• Socializing with friends
The factor is scored such that a higher number indicates fewer potentially distracting or negative activities.
 
Factor 8: Quantitative Skills
This factor splits out the quantitative skill self assessment questions, such as:
Please rate your level of proficiency in the following areas when you started at this campus and now.
• Quantitative (mathematical and statistical) skills