Friday, January 27, 2012

Data mining

I spent a few hours this morning running the numbers on the students currently enrolled in our Honors Program, hoping to get some objective data on students' participation in the program as I move toward my new position in the fall. I made some heartening findings.

Namely, each of the school's three major disciplinary divisions (humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences) is pretty equally well-represented in the Honors Program. School-wide, 9.25% of all declared majors take part in the Honors Program, and the participation rates of the individual divisions range from 7.68% to 9.91%, quite tightly centered on the overall mean. Counting the courses these students take in Honors gives further evidence to this balanced participation: overall, a student in Honors who has declared a major has completed 3.65 Honors courses on average, and the means for the various divisions range from 3.58 courses per student to 3.81 courses per student.

There are certain departments that are particularly well-represented in Honors, including a few that are quite large (and that are therefore somewhat immune to sample-size bias). For instance, five of our seven departments with at least 100 majors can boast that more than 10% of their students take part in Honors, including one department with 122 majors, of whom 17 (13.93%) are enrolled in the Honors Program. At the other extreme, there are four departments, each home to anywhere from 26 to 31 majors, with no students in Honors. (One of these is a relatively new department, one which graduated its first majors just a couple of years ago.)


I don't believe these data to be "actionable" in any way...and besides, the results don't indicate dramatic action. I'll stay the course for now...though it might not be a bad idea to talk with the folks in those four departments to make sure their students are aware of the opportunity...?

We'll see.

No comments: