Career & Technical Program Follow-up Study Overview
The Career and Technical Program Graduate Survey is conducted annually by all Illinois community colleges. The ICCB requests survey results for specific career and technical programs on a five-year review cycle, and requests a 50% response rate for the graduates of those programs. The ICCB collects and aggregates the survey data and reports on the findings. Illinois Central College's response rate for FY 2011 career and technical program graduates designated for collection by the ICCB was 52.03%. However, it is important to note that in an effort to enhance the program review efforts of all of the college’s career and technical programs, the Office of Institutional Research annually surveys each program’s graduates. The overall response rate for FY 2011 career and technical graduates was 48.05%.
Career and technical program graduates are surveyed six months following completion of the term during which they received their credential(s). July graduates are surveyed the following January, December graduates the following June, and May graduates the following November. This allows for greater comparability among graduates with respect to employment and educational status, as well as the distance from which they assess the college’s programs and services, among other variables. FY 2011 includes summer 2010, fall 2010, and spring 2011 graduates.
The Office of Institutional Research provides the survey materials, which include a paper-based survey, a standard cover letter, and a postage-paid envelope. Program coordinators are invited to personalize the cover letter and include a program-specific survey with the mailing, if they so choose. Graduates who return completed surveys prior to the response deadline are entered into a random drawing for incentive prizes. The survey is mailed to non-responders up to three times. For FY 2011, the Office of Institutional Research mailed 886 total surveys, of which 870 were deemed deliverable and 418 (48.05% of deliverable surveys) were returned.
Meeting the 50% response rate requested by the ICCB has become a greater challenge over time for community colleges statewide. At ICC, response rates for all programs have decreased over 17 percentage points since FY 2007, falling steadily from 65.36% to 48.05% in FY 2011. Response rates for ICCB required programs show greater variability from year to year, although a downward trend is evident. Response rates statewide have remained fairly flat over the past five years, and have failed to meet the 50% mark for five out of the past ten years.
Many variables may influence whether or not students respond to surveys. These include attitudinal characteristics, such interest in the topic at hand . Survey fatigue may also play a role; students appear to be growing weary of requests for “just a few moments” of their time. However, data collected from surveys are often a key component of improvement processes at any institution. While low response rates do not necessarily mean that results are not representative and cannot be generalized to the population, the downward trend and the causes of it are a concern.
Primary Attendance Objective and Academic Goal
The majority of respondents (74.88%; N= 307) indicated that they attended ICC to obtain skills needed for entry into a new or different job. These percentages have remained stable for several administrations of the survey, varying between 71% and 75% since FY 2007. Nearly all respondents (97.12%; N = 404) agreed that they achieved their primary academic goal(s) while at ICC; nearly 73% (N = 304) strongly agreed. Since this question was added to the survey in FY 2007, the percentage of agreement has consistently ranged between 97% and 98%.
Current Educational Status
The percentage of respondents enrolled in college courses at the time that they completed the survey increased slightly after a three-year downward trend; 28.43% (N = 118) reported being currently enrolled in a field of study either related or unrelated to their previous ICC program. This percentage has ranged between 27% and 31% since FY 2007.
Current Employment Status
Employment Rates and Status: Employment rates held steady over the past three years, ranging between 84% and 86%. However, at 85.89% (N = 359), FY 2011 employment rates were nearly seven percentage points lower than FY 2007, at which time 92.74% of respondents were employed. The percentage of respondents employed full-time increased five percentage points to 70.10% (N = 293) compared to last year. Over the past five years, full-time employment rates were lowest in FY 2010 at 65.01%.
Unemployment Rates: Compared to FY 2010, unemployment rates for FY 2011 respondents decreased slightly to 8.61% (N = 36). However, the percentage of respondents who reported that they were unemployed and seeking employment remained over five percentage points higher than FY 2007 when only 3.2% of respondents were seeking employment. Of the 5.50% (N = 23) who were unemployed and not seeking employment, the majority (56.52%; N = 13) were full-time students.
Job Relatedness: Nearly 77% (N = 274) of employed respondents reported having a job related to their ICC program of study, up less than one percentage point over last year. Since FY 2007, this percentage has ranged between 76% and 82%, peaking in FY 2009 at 82.33%. Of the 23.25% (N = 83) with a job unrelated to their program of study, 40.26% (N = 31) could not find a job in their field of preparation, up nearly five percentage points compared to last year and over 11 percentage points compared to FY 2007.
Job Satisfaction: Respondents were asked to rate job satisfaction on a four-point scale (4 = very satisfied; 1 = very dissatisfied). FY 2011 respondents rated job satisfaction at 3.19. Within the past five years, ratings were lowest in FY 2010 at 3.04 and peaked at 3.28 in FY 2009.
Hours per Week/Rate of Pay: Employed respondents worked an average of 36 hours per week, excluding overtime. At $17.07, rate of pay was at a five-year high, increasing $1.42 over last year.
Job Location: Nearly 82% (N = 289) of respondents remained with the ICC district to work, an increase of nearly 3 percentage points compared to FY 2010 and the highest percentage observed for the past five years. Since FY 2007, this percentage has ranged between 77% and 82%.
Each year, it is important to make note of the percentage of graduates who remain within the district to work. These graduates enhance the well-being of all residents by contributing to the pool of workforce skills, adding to the tax base, reducing the burden on social services and the levels of publicly supported subsidies, and increasing the overall level of economic activity through purchases of goods and services.
Programs and Services Assessment
Average ratings for programs and services assessment are based on a four-point satisfaction scale (4 = very satisfied; 1 = very dissatisfied). Each year, respondents are most satisfied with the content of courses taken within their program. Since FY 2007, ratings have ranged between 3.58 and 3.68. Respondents are consistently least satisfied with information on current employment opportunities and trends. Average ratings had been climbing since FY 2007, peaking at 3.27 in FY 2009. However, the following year, the average rating fell to 3.10, a five-year low. The average rating for FY 2011 was 3.16.
Outside of their program, respondents are consistently most satisfied with equipment, facilities, and materials. The average rating for this item has ranged from 3.38 to 3.47 for the last five years. Respondents are also consistently least satisfied with job preparation, although the average rating for FY 2011 was at a five-year high of 3.11. Average ratings for this item have ranged from 3.01 to 3.11 for the past five years.
Nearly 70% (N = 291) of respondents reported that they used library/audiovisual services, rated the most satisfactory service with an average score of 3.53. Averages for this item have ranged between 3.44 and 3.53 for the past five years. At 3.50, financial aid also ranked among the most satisfactory of services, 0.22 points higher than FY 2007. At nearly 84% (N = 350), academic advising was the most used service with a satisfaction rating of 3.37, on par with ratings for the past five years.
For FY 2011, it is important to note that while some programs and services were rated lower than others, none were rated lower than a 3, which represents “somewhat satisfied” on the rating scale. Regarding services, for example, the 3.15 average that career planning services earned is not a poor rating, although it is the lowest rated service. College transfer planning also rated relatively low at 3.22, although that rating is 0.26 higher than last year.
Questions or comments? Please contact the Office of Institutional Research at (309) 694-5285 or at [email protected].