If you are new to the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M, you might not know what Student Life Studies (SLS) is or does on a daily basis. Here’s a quick overview to introduce you to what we do and the common services we provide.
Philosophically, Student Life Studies is here to answer the big questions you have so you can improve your programs and services for students and other stakeholders. More concretely, we help staff and student organizations develop assessment instruments, gather and analyze data, and use information for improvement. We take clients from beginning to end—from idea to change.
The most common service that SLS provides is survey design, administration, analysis, and reporting. We use software to develop both online surveys and paper-based surveys. The staff in the department help people create appropriate questions for what they want to know. In our partnership model, you are the expert about your topic, and we are the experts about the process. We help you ensure that your questions are not biased, they are the right type of question for what you want to know, are in an order that makes sense, and much more! Overall, we help ensure that the answers you get will help you accomplish your goals and outcomes.
Surveys are just one part of the assessment services. We also help people design focus groups, from the logistics to the questions. Depending on our availability, we may also facilitate the focus groups for you. We have easy to use digital recorders if you are interested in transcribing an audio recording. Although we do not transcribe for you, we can point you in the direction of cost-effective and timely services and resources. We can also assist you in analyzing and interpreting the information you get.
If you have an educational/developmental program or experience where you want students to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas, we can help you design rubrics. The staff will help you determine your outcomes, criteria, and levels of demonstration. These are great if you have the opportunity to observe some behavior or skill, and they can be used as student self-reflection/rating, supervisor/advisor rating, or both. You can also find premade rubrics at https://sllo.tamu.edu/.
Currently, the university uses Qualtrics as the common survey software. Student Life Studies administers the accounts for the Division of Student Affairs. We help you get an account, provide group training, and provide individual consultation. Through years of experience, our staff knows shortcuts and best practices that we are happy to share with you. If and when the institution goes to a different platform in the future, we will continue to provide training and consultation services as needed.
The staff can also work with you to analyze or interpret results that you already have. One request, though, is that if you know you are planning to collect data through a medium such as Google Forms, please contact us before you do that. Sometimes when staff have brought us a data file, the data is not in good condition. We may have a quicker and easier way for you to collect and analyze data.
While this blog hits the highlights and most common services Student Life Studies provides, we always encourage staff to contact the department for any questions. If you don’t know the answer or provide the service, we can find out the best way to assist you. We are always here to help.