Student Perception Project

Kathryn OlesonProfessor Kathryn Oleson
assisted by Mari Federow '09

Department of Psychology
Reed College
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd
Portland, OR 97202

phone: (503) 517-7498

Research Purposes

The joint influence of a students’ academic environment and their personal styles of approach to academics has major implications for their academic achievement and engagement. The Student Perception Project examines students’ academic success and engagement within Reed’s unique mastery-oriented context. This programmatic research includes a two-pronged approach to provide converging findings. For prong 1, we are studying students’ academic lives in context by conducting survey research with Reed College’s current student body. This prong involves cross-sectional comparisons of the whole student body as well as a longitudinal component with Reed’s incoming freshmen class that will examine their academic lives as they unfold over their four college years. For prong 2, we are conducting a series of lab studies to provide an experimental analog to complement the survey research.

Research in Progress

Prong 1: The first wave of data collection began in Fall 2008. Four hundred and sixteen students (59% female) representing a range of academic years, personal outlooks, and goals agreed to take the survey. The sample included 133 freshmen, 70 sophomores, 117 juniors, and 93 seniors.

We conducted our second wave of data collection early in Spring 2009, surveying only first year (freshman or new transfer) and sophomore students; this research yielded a high response rate, with 164 students (113 freshmen and 51 sophomores) completing the second wave of the survey.

Students entering Reed in Fall 2008 were then surveyed in three more waves of data collection in Fall 2009, Spring 2010, and Fall 2010.