Lower Response Rates on Alumni Surveys Might Not Mean Lower Response Representativeness

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The purpose of this research is to explore some possible issues with response representativeness in alumni surveys. While alumni surveys can provide important information, they often have lower response rates due to bad contact information and other reasons. In this study we investigate potential differences between responses on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) from the cohorts of graduating seniors from 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 and those same cohorts of alumni responding to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) in 2010 at six diverse institutions. A series of chi-squared analyses were done for each of the six cohort years. Findings indicate that the demographic characteristics and institutional satisfaction of alumni respondents closely mirror those of the graduating seniors. The results from this study suggest that even though response rates on alumni surveys might be lower, the results may be just as representative as studies with much higher response rates.

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Educational Research Quarterly, v. 37, no. 3.